WHO: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers
WHERE: Moda Center in Portland, OR
WHEN: 9:30 PM CT
HOW TO LISTEN: 92.9 FM ESPN MEMPHIS
HOW TO WATCH: TNT
For the Trail Blazers perspective, visit Blazer's Edge
The Memphis Grizzlies quickly rebounded on Tuesday night with a 103-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Just the night before, they suffered their worst loss in franchise history falling 119-69 at Golden State.
Now officially halfway thru their longest road trip of the season, the Grizzlies travel to the City of Roses to face a new look Trail Blazers team that has shocked many people with their strong play early this season.
The Grizzlies and Trail Blazers are both 3-2 on the season heading into tonight's game. On paper, it looks to be a good matchup, but Memphis has dominated the series in recent memory winning 14-of-16 games against Portland. What's beneficial for Memphis is that they've won six of the last eight contests they've played in Rip City.
Marc Gasol left at halftime the other night in Sacramento after dealing with neck spasms. It's unclear whether he will be in the line up for tonight's game in Portland, but look for Memphis to play small ball with Brandan Wright and Zach Randolph if he misses tonight's contest.
Six months ago, Grizz Nation was left breathless when Mike Conley took an accidental elbow from Trail Blazers' guard C.J. McCollum. Conley suffered a fracture in his face, and it looked for sure like he was going to miss the rest of the postseason. He wouldn't play in the remainder of the Trail Blazers series, but thanks to that injury Grizzlies' fans now have a new nickname for the star point guard. "Iron Mike" will look to make his presence known on the court tonight against a stellar point guard in Portland.
Keys to the contest-
1) Defending Damian Lillard
The Trail Blazers' star point guard is having a tremendous season. The third year point guard out of Weber State is having the best season of his career averaging 27.4 points per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the field.
In four games at the Moda Center vs. the Grizzlies last season, he averaged 22.0 points on 40.3 percent shooting. The Grizzlies' perimeter defenders did a great job guarding Lillard holding him to 26.7 percent behind the three point line.
Guarding Lillard will be a challenge for the Grizzlies, but they've had success against him in the past. He will likely be the biggest headache for Grizzlies' defenders tonight.
2) Dominate with bench play
The Grizzlies did a terrific job the other night when their second unit came into the game. The Memphis bench scored 42 points against the Sacramento Kings which picked up much of the slack in Marc Gasol's absence.
JaMychal Green had a break out game for the Grizzlies' scoring 12 points on the night. Brandan Wright was also in double figures for the boys in blue.
Jeff Green and Matt Barnes went a combined 3-of-17 the other night, and that will have to change in order for the Grizzlies to have success against Portland.
The Prediction: Memphis 101, Portland 93
The Grizzlies have dominated the Trail Blazers in recent memory, and that is likely to continue. Portland is having a better than expected start to the 2015-16 campaign.
Although the Trail Blazers are a young and talented team, Memphis will be their biggest test of the season. If Marc Gasol is unable to play tonight, I expect this game to be a little closer than it should be.
Mike Conley vs. Damian Lillard will be a fun matchup to watch. In the end, I think the Grizzlies come out on top and leave Portland with a victory.