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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Preview

Another early one.

Portland Trail Blazers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (24-34) vs Memphis Grizzlies (41-18)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis for the second game of a short two game road trip. The Blazers come into this game on a three game winning streak and looking to pick up a fourth straight. The Grizzlies have won six straight to end a seven game road trip and are looking to extend their winning streak back at home.

Wednesday, February 16- 5:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Keon Johnson (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Didi Louzada (out), Joe Ingles (out), Dennis Smith Jr. (out)
Grizzlies injuries: Ja Morant (questionable), Dillon Brooks (out), Xavier Tillman (out), Yves Pons (out)
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues

What To Watch For

  • Red hot Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are one of the league’s hottest teams at the moment, being winners of six straight and a record of 22-4 since Christmas. Being on the second night of a back to back with travel in between is a disadvantage for any team, but the Grizzlies may just not be able to lose at the moment. Will momentum swing in favor of the Blazers, or will the Grizzlies continue their dominance over the entire league?
  • Are the Blazers good? A week ago, seeing the post-deadline Blazers on a schedule would be chalked up to an almost guaranteed win. However, the fun young Blazers have won three straight and seem to be one of those teams that could catch a team thinking they have an easy win. The Grizzlies could be ready for a tough game after looking at the scouting report, or they could be another on a growing list of upsets for the Blazers.
  • Anfernee Simons and Josh Hart. The duo has averaged 30.5 and 25 points per game respectively in their first two contests playing together. Whether or not this duo continues to flourish or takes a step back as the season progresses will determine if this Blazers squad will be able to continue to play spoiler or if they will fall into what most expected of them and lose most of their games.

What Others Are Saying

Grizzly Bear Blues’ pfleming15 talked about the potential playoff success for the young Grizzlies team.

Starting with the postseason aspect of things, it’s so easy to evaluate “limits” or “ceilings” of how far a team could potentially go. After all, the goal is not regular season success; it’s playoff success. Kleiman has said that himself. And for the most part, we don’t know this iteration of the Grizzlies are capable of in the postseason, even though they were in it 8 months ago.

Ja Morant played like this version of himself last postseason, and we have years of postseason data on Steven Adams. However, Jaren Jackson Jr. wasn’t really fully in the mix last season. He was thrust into high-stakes basketball after sitting out for 9 months to rehab his knee. Desmond Bane has taken one of the NBA’s biggest individual leaps this season. How will his increased role translate into postseason? Brandon Clarke wasn’t in the rotation last postseason. How will his defensive versatility and vertical pop impact a postseason series?

Justin Lewis of talked about the nontraditional way that the Grizzlies have built their team and found success.

New GM Zach Kleiman has taken a different approach. The front office has identified a type of player they want to be a part of this franchise, and they go out and get them. From Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke to Xavier Tillman and Killian Tillie, the Grizzlies aren’t interested in draft narratives about age and wingspan — rather, it’s all about what kind of person and player is coming aboard.

From Morant down to the Memphis Hustle in the G League, the Grizzlies organization is deep. It could perhaps be the deepest team in the league, indicated by their 10-2 record when Morant was out due to injury this season.

They didn’t trade seven first-round picks and pick swaps for a superstar. They didn’t break the bank for a free agent. No, the Memphis Grizzlies drafted the right guys, snagged guys in trades (like De’Anthony Melton and Steven Adams), and signed Tyus Jones in free agency. They got their guys, they executed their plan. Now, for the plan to work, the players must do the same.