The Portland Trail Blazers have a chance at four wins in a row on Sunday, something they only achieved once last season when they won their first four games in a row last October. Win number three this season didn’t come easy as Portland needed to overcome a 10-point deficit with 3:21 to go in the fourth to tie it up and send the game to overtime. The Blazers never trailed in the extra frame, coming away with a 115-113 victory on Friday night against Memphis.
The Memphis Grizzlies will look for revenge and their first victory of the season as they remain in town to take another swipe at the Blazers. It’s been a miserable start to the season for the NBA’s only winless squad, so they’ll be extra motivated to make up for blowing that late lead on Friday.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies - Sunday, November 5 - 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Ish Wainright (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Scoot Henderson (out), Toumani Camara (questionable)
Grizzlies injuries: Derrick Rose (out), Steven Adams (out), Brandon Clarke (out), Santi Aldama (out), John Konchar (out)
- Desmond Bane. One of the few bright spots for Memphis at the moment is Desmond Bane. He’s averaging 26 points on 47.1% shooting, and he was tremendous on Friday night against the Blazers. His 33 points led all scorers for both teams, and he added eight rebounds and seven assists. The Blazers have already demonstrated that they can beat the Grizzlies if Bane goes off, but they’d have an easier time of it if they can keep him under his season averages.
- Defense. You might have to sit down for this one. In fact I’m afraid to write it down lest I jinx it. But the fact is <whispering> the Blazers are pretty good at defense. Not great mind you... at least not yet. The Blazers are in the top 10 in the NBA in defensive rating at the moment. Apparently a team with height, length and youthful energy can cause some problems on occasion. Who knew? It’s a long season and there is certainly no guarantee that Portland will continue to be a top 10 defensive team come February or March. Still, for the first time in what seems like over a decade you can look at this team and imagine a future that includes solid defense night-in and night-out.
- Shooting. If there is one statistic that stands out for the Grizzlies, it’s their miserable shooting percentage of 43.3%. Only two teams have a worse percentage. Unfortunately one of them is the Blazers. A low shooting percentage for a very young team is understandable but it just shouldn’t be happening for a team that was thought to be solidly in the playoff picture before the season started. Portland looks at their 42.8% field goal percentage and see potential; get that number to respectable levels and good things will happen. For Memphis its panic stations with such a low percentage, especially when they are giving up 8.2 more points to their opponents than the Blazers.
What Others Are Saying
John Hollinger and Kelly Iko of The Athletic (subscription required) talk about what’s going on with Memphis.
Before we go, a reminder: We started the year 10-15 in 2013-14 when I was working for the Grizz, and some of the losses didn’t look too different from the Utah game last night. That team still ended up winning 50 games. The NBA season gives you a lot of time to get well. If the Grizzlies can split the next 20 games before Morant returns, they still might have enough to make a run.
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report says that Memphis needs run more to get out of their funk.
Though the Grizzlies aren’t blowing the doors off in transition, they rank higher in scoring efficiency on the break than they do in halfcourt sets. Though Morant’s absence means Memphis lacks its turbo button, it’s still worth pushing the pace, because with or without Morant, the Grizzlies have always struggled to get buckets against a set defense. They haven’t ranked higher than 22nd in half-court offense since 2016-17.
Two players can’t carry the load by themselves writes Jonah Dylan of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
It’s clear that Memphis has to find more production from someone outside of Bane and Jackson. Bane played 44 minutes on Friday, and it’s not realistic to expect him to play 40-plus minutes each night.