Portland Trail Blazers (24-26) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (32-18)
The Portland Trailblazers broke a long string of losing close games on Monday with a reasonably satisfying 129-125 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Winners of three of their last four, the Blazers will now take the show on the road for a tricky three game trip that features lots of miles and a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.
The Memphis Grizzlies are in second place in the West, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing lately. Memphis went 0-5 on their recent road trip trip before beating the Indiana Pacers at home on Sunday by a score of 112-100. Before the five game losing streak, the Grizzlies had an 11 game winning streak, so they are more than capable of going on a huge run. Memphis will feel this is a game they should win so it’s up to the Blazers to play spoiler.
Trail Blazers vs. Grizzlies- Wednesday, February 1 - 4:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Greg Brown III (out), Ibou Badji (out), Josh Hart (probable), Jusuf Nurkic (probable)
Grizzlies injuries: Steven Adams (out), Desmond Bane (questionable), Danny Green (questionable), John Konchar (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues
- Ja Morant. He’s the heart and soul of this Memphis team. It’s not just his 27.3 points per game or his 8.2 assists. When the Grizzlies need a switch of momentum, count on Ja to do something electric. If there is a silver lining for the Blazers, he often requires some volume to get his points. He is shooting 31.8% from deep and 75% from the free throw line. In fact, he’s had 10 games this season where he has shot 60% or less from the charity stripe. Nevertheless, none of that matters if he’s allowed to change the momentum of the game with a highlight dunk.
- Free throws. It’s not just Ja who sometimes struggles from the line. The whole team is shooting 71.4% on freebies, last place in the NBA. Portland and Memphis are tied when it comes to free throw attempts per game at 25.3. The difference in shooting percentage doesn’t add up to huge difference, just over 1 point per game extra for the Blazers. However, the Blazers are the more likely of the two teams to have a good night from the line, and Memphis is more likely to have a bad one. In a close game it could make the difference.
- Memphis Defense. The Grizzlies defensive rating of 106.4 when at home is the best in the NBA. The Blazers rating on the road is 114.9. Memphis is just a really good defensive team, and they take an already high level and elevate it when they are playing in FedExForum. Two areas in particular that are cause for concern for Portland are blocked shots and steals. Memphis leads the league in blocks per game at home and are second in steals at home. Not great news for a team that often lacks size and has been know to give the ball away. This is a tall order for the Blazers, and they’ll have to elevate their offensive game if they are going to contend in this one.
What Others Are Saying
Danny Green is targeting the game against the Blazers to make his return after a major injury reports Ben Sawyers of ABC24.
Green made the statement on his podcast, ”Inside the Green Room,” Wednesday, January 25. The 35-year-old guard has been out since May 2022, when he went down with tears to the anterior and lateral ligaments in his left knee during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Are there shenanigans going on with Jaren Jackson Jr.’s defensive stats at home as claimed on Reddit? Jon Hoefling of Deadspin takes a look.
JJJ’s home/road splits are eye-popping to say the least. In 16 games at home this year, Jackson has 22 steals and 66 blocked shots. Through 17 games on the road, Jackson has only 12 steals and 37 blocked shots. That’s a 1.95-to-1 steal home-to-road ratio and a 1.9-to-1 block ratio when playing at FedExForum. It makes sense for players to play better at home. However, discrepancies of this magnitude are questionable at best.
Parker Fleming at Grizzly Bear Blues had a trade deadline mailbag, so if you want to see what folks in Memphis are thinking have a look.
The NBA trade deadline is 10 days away, and there is a lot of angst around Grizzlies Twitter about the Memphis Grizzlies needing to make a trade. Content is king, so I asked everyone to provide realistic trade targets for me, and I’d write why or why not it should or could happen.