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Ballin' On Beale: Blazers at Grizzlies Preview

Memphis has (hopefully) turned the tide for good and looks to notch another home victory in their (hopefully championship) belt against the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Setting the Stage WHOOP THAT TRICK

We’re back in business baby!

"Grizz Roll in Dallas!"

"Joerger Does His Homework and the Results Are In: A+!"

These are the headlines that need to be posted EVERYWHERE this morning as Memphis returns home from a just lovely 112-101 performance in Dallas. Knock on wood but Marc appeared to be returning to his All-Star form with a back-to-back double-double while Z-Bo continued his classic Mavs domination with 21 points, 4 boards, and 5 assists.

The change could be from any number of reasons but I think it’s best to give some respect to the head coach in this situation. Coach Dave Joerger has taken his fair share of accusations and belittlement for how the Grizz have played in recent weeks and the haphazard lineups they’ve trotted out. But last night the man in charge gave the people what they wanted and as if to shout from hundreds of miles away, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!!" Joerger finally put Tony Allen back in the starting lineup. Any Grizz fanatic not in full March Madness mode quivered in the presence of Joerger’s power move as Tony Allen went on to put on an out-of-body +16 plus/minus performance. Now on to the actual preview…

This happened.

Tale of the Tape

It’s easy to view last night’s performance as just another anomaly in the most up-and-down section of the Grizzlies’ year. Naysayers will say they’ve seen the Grizzlies turn it on for one game just to falter in the next…especially at home. LA LA LA can’t hear you! Treating last night’s road victory as a true turning point let’s look at how the new and improved (so really just throwback?) Grizzlies match up tonight against the 44-23 Portland Trail Blazers.

Memphis fans have every reason to be optimistic about the upcoming schedule while Blazers fans…well not so much. Their team has dropped 3 in a row after a convincing 113-97 win over the similarly stumbling Toronto Raptors. This all in the midst of losing Wesley Matthews for the season to a torn Achilles tendon. On one hand Lamarcus Aldridge has resiliently stepped up his game and averaged 30 points in their three straight losses. On the other hand fellow Blazers star Damian Lillard has faltered with less than 20 points in those games. Overall the team hasn’t put up stat lines that at face value would lead you to believe they actually lost to the Orlando Magic, but finding ways to win on the road has been a challenge for the team.

That’s fantastic news for Memphis fans because the Grindhouse is a fortress- the Grizzlies have won eight of their last ten in the Forum. Continuing that streak will depend on continuing last night’s performance and that depends on Coach Joerger’s continued coaching improvements. Easy enough. If the Dallas highlights aren't enough to get fans hyped then the following Mike Conley quotation should put ‘em over the top: "We just needed to change our mindset a little bit. Go out and play aggressive. Play with reckless abandon on defense. [emphasis added but unnecessary]" WHOOP THAT TRICK!!

That’s A Wrap

A Tony Allen-studded starting lineup and aggressive play from Gasol should propel Memphis to another home victory over the struggling Blazers. It’ll be a team effort and everyone is hopefully learning to accept their roles (see: Courtney Lee’s improved defense in the face of his worsened shooting and Jeff Green finding spots coming off the bench). Let the good times roll Memphis!

Prediction- Memphis 101, Portland 95