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Portland Trail Blazers-Memphis Grizzlies Preview

The Blazers face a tough challenge tonight, without Damian Lillard.

Memphis Grizzlies v Utah Jazz Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers are taking on the Memphis Grizzlies at the Moda Center in their final game of a four game home stand. After this, the Blazers will head out on their first major road trip, with their next six games away from home.

Portland Trail Blazers (5-1) vs Memphis Grizzlies (4-3)

The Blazers are coming into this one with four days of rest after their win over the Houston Rockets. The Blazers are without Damian Lillard for their second straight game.

The Grizzlies are on their last game of a four-game road trip where they have lost their last two to the Utah Jazz. They are coming off of much less rest, but are looking forward to a three game stretch back in Memphis.

Wednesday, November 2 - 7:00 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: ESPN, Root Sports Plus, BSSE, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Gary Payton II (out), Olivier Sarr (out), Trendon Watford (out), Josh Hart (day-to-day)

Grizzlies injuries: Danny Green (out), Jaren Jackson Jr. (out), Ziaire Williams (out), Desmond Bane (questionable), Steven Adams (questionable), Jake LaRavia (questionable)

SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues

The Matchup

  • Anfernee Simons. Anfernee Simons really came into his own last year after he was able to take the reins of the offense during Lillard’s injury absence. Simons started slowly and inefficiently, but he has really picked it up as of late. In the last three games, Simons has averaged 24.3 points per game on an absolutely lethal 48.6% from behind the arc. If the Blazers want to continue their campaign for the best record in the Western Conference tonight against the Grizzlies, Simons will be absolutely essential to the success of the team.
  • Road trip fatigue? The Grizzlies started the year 4-1, but dropped their last two to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are blowing expectations out of the water, but the question of talent still remains. Did Memphis lose two straight on the road to this year’s surprise team? Or did they take two disappointing losses that served as an easy way to pad their early season record? The Blazers without Lillard still have more talent than the Jazz, so that trend bodes well for the Blazers. However, it could have been a fluke so the Blazers can’t get too comfortable.
  • Jusuf Nurkić. Nurkić has been bad from the field this year, an alarming statistic for a seven footer who takes most of his shots near the basket. In his last contest however, he shot a very good 12/17 on his way to a 27 point 15 rebound performance. If that is the first game in a Nurkić resurgence, then the Blazers should hope to see that performance carry over into one of their toughest games of the young season.

What Others Are Saying

Matthew Gill of Grizzly Bear Blues talks about Ja Morant’s excellent return to action, despite the loss in Utah

In Morant’s return to action after missing Saturday’s matchup, he looked like himself scoring a team-high 37 points on an efficient 12-18 shooting and was able to score without the clock moving hitting 12 of his 15 free throw attempts. However, teams have found ways to make it harder for him to score at the rim and Utah did an excellent job, especially in the middle two quarters, limiting his transition opportunities and were able to turn him away at the rim several times.

Ja’s below-average assist total for the night was more of a testament to how poorly the Grizzlies shot the ball, especially from outside going 6-26 from three as a team. Despite the disappointing final score, the greatest silver lining was that Morant seemed to avoid serious injury despite an ankle roll in the fourth quarter with the game firmly out of reach. Memphis entered their Salt Lake City stay already short-handed and cannot afford to lose their MVP candidate for any more time.

StatsSAC of Grizzly Bear Blues has talked about how much Desmond Bane has progressed as a playmaker this year.

A year ago, one of the biggest storylines heading into the 2021-2022 season was the potential progression in Desmond Bane’s playmaking. While there was a bit of a jump from his rookie to sophomore, significant progression did not occur until the second half of last season. This was not just in terms of the number of assists Bane was producing, but also his solid assist-to-turnover ratio numbers.

To start year three, Bane is taking the sizeable leap that rightfully had so many excited. Last year, Bane averaged 2.7 assists per game. This season, Bane is up to five assists per game. And the solid decision-making also remains, as Bane has produced 30 assists to just 13 turnovers. While the turnovers have increased from last year, that is a natural byproduct of a higher usage rate for Bane.