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Grizzlies vs. Blazers Game 1 Preview: It's playoff time!

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
2014/15 Playoffs, Round 1, Game 1
vs
2014/15 Regular Season:
55-27 (31-10 Home)
2014/15 Regular Season:
51-31 (19-22 Road)
FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Sunday, April 19th
7:00 PM CDT
TNT / Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Damian Lillard
Courtney Lee SG C.J. McCollum
Tony Allen SF Nicolas Batum
Zach Randolph PF LaMarcus Aldridge
Marc Gasol C Robin Lopez
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.2 (26th) Pace 96.5 (T-12th)
103.1 (13th) OEff 105.5 (8th)
99.9 (4th) DEff 101.4 (10th)
50.1 (T-12th) RebR 50.7 (10th)

Trail Blazers vs Grizzlies coverage

Opponent's Blog: Blazer's Edge

Injuries

Trail Blazers: Arron Afflalo (Out, shoulder), Wesley Matthews (Out, Achilles), Dorell Wright (Out, Hand), Nicolas Batum (Questionable, Knee), Chris Kaman (Questionable, Back), C.J. McCollum (Questionable, Ankle)

Grizzlies: Tony Allen (Questionable, Hamstring), Mike Conley (Questionable, Foot)

See Injury Updates Here

Know Your Opponent

The Blazers got out to one of the hottest starts in the West, with a record standing at 30-8 in mid-January. Since January 14th, injuries and inconsistency have led to a 21-23 record the rest of the way and multiple 3-5 game losing streaks, including a 4 game skid to end the season.

The team relies heavily on star point guard Damian Lillard and a bevy of wing shooters. The Blazers shot 27.2 3’s per game during the regular season, hitting on 36.2% of those. Unfortunately for Portland, the ranks of the wing shooters have been heavily thinned by injury. Despite possessing one of the game’s best bigs in LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland is a heavily perimeter-based offense, and it shows in their low number of fouls drawn (2nd to last in the league). They were the best free throw shooting team in the league at 80.1%, so this is not a team you want to get in a foul-shooting contest with.

Previous Matchups

The Grizzlies have beaten Portland in 9 of their 11 meetings since Terry Stotts took over as head coach. Memphis swept the 4 2014-15 regular season matchups, winning by an average of 8.5 points. Defense was key, as the Blazers converted just 40.5% of their field goals, including 33.6% from 3 – and they took a smidge under 30 3’s a game so that number is important. The Grizzlies also won the possession game on the season, both in rebounding and turnovers.

Points of Grizzly Emphasis

Different Methods, Similar Results

Stop me if this sounds familiar, but the Grizzlies and their playoff opponent play very different styles of basketball. Portland takes the 3rd most 3’s of any team; Memphis takes the 2nd least. The Grizzlies led the league in points in the paint; the Blazers were 5th to last. Portland is one of the faster-paced teams in the NBA, Memphis is one of the slowest. Despite their many differences, there are two things both teams do well: rebound the ball and not turn it over. On paper, their offensive results are very similar, down to a .01 Points Per Shot differential (1.20 for Portland vs. 1.19 for Memphis).

The Replacements

With Tony Allen and Mike Conley's availability and effectiveness in question due to injury, role players like Nick Calathes, Beno Udrih and perhaps even Jordan Adams may become much more important.   Lillard can go off for 40 even when well-guarded, so Coach Joerger will have to mix and match his pieces to make sure a solid defender is on Lillard at all times while retaining as much offensive firepower as possible.

Et tu, VC?

Vince Carter has had a largely disappointing first season in Beale Street Blue. He has shown life after the All-Star break, but remains streaky. A game or two of classic Vince while Conley and Allen are still on the mend would be a very welcome sight to Grizz Nation.

Why you should watch this game

The Grizzlies are favored to win this series due to the home court advantage (and Portland’s mediocre road record), matchup history, and their previous playoff success. On top of that, we as fans don’t have to enter the death-match cage that would be another round of Grizzlies-Thunder, Grizzlies-Clippers, or Grizzlies-Spurs. This projects to be a fun-to-watch playoff series between two good small market teams with passionate fan bases.