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Full Recap: Memphis Grizzlies Defeat Portland Trail Blazers 100-86 in Game One of First Round Series

A tremendous performance from Beno Udrih highlighted an evening in which Portland's superstars were done in by a complete team effort that resulted in a wire-to-wire victory in the FedEx Forum Sunday night.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

For one night at least, the Memphis Grizzlies returned to having the look of an NBA Finals contender.

From the first tip to the final horn, Memphis out-hustled, out-executed, and out-classed the Portland Trail Blazers to the tune of a 100-86 win at the FedEx Forum in game one of the 2015 Western Conference First Round playoff series between the two teams.

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Three Keys to the Win
  • Beno Udrih was, as head coach Dave Joerger said in his post-game presser, "sensational". He had 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists on 9-14 shooting, including a made three point shot and all sorts of productivity on both ends of the court. Beno showed the capacity to not be a defensive liability in his run against Portland's Damian Lillard and helped the Grizzlies offense in key spots when they appeared to be sputtering.
  • Speaking of sputtering, the Portland Trail Blazers' two superstars struggled mightily on this night in Memphis. LaMarcus Aldridge had a 32 point/14 rebound double-double, but it came on 34 shots and a 38% shooting performance. As far as Damian Lillard goes, is his night in a tweet and a shot chart.

Lillard Game 1 Shot Chart

Not the best of nights for Mr. Lillard. He was a step slow on defense all night, routinely getting beaten off the dribble by Mike Conley (more on him in a minute) and Beno, stressing the interior defense to the point of Robin Lopez struggling to get back in space to help. For a guy promising a renewed focus on the defensive end before the series began, it did not appear that way.

Offensively, Lillard was 5-21 overall from the floor and 0-6 from three. It's unlikely that kind of performance happens again, especially twice in a row, but Damian forced things too often and was clearly affected by Memphis' defensive presence.

  • Wanna talk about defensive presence? Memphis held a team that shot 45% overall from the field, 36.2% from three, and scored 102.8 points per game during the regular season to 33.7% shooting overall from the field, 30.8% from three, and 86 points. Some of this can be explained by the injuries to the Trail Blazers: no Alonzo Gee, no Arron Afflalo, and no Dorell Wright hurt Portland immensely (and meant 42 minutes for Aldridge, 39 for Lillard, and 38 for Nicolas Batum, a possible problem for Portland as this series grinds along). Credit should be given to Memphis as well, though; nine blocks and eight steals led to energy and extra offensive opportunities that Memphis can always take advantage of.
Three Things To Feel Good About
  • Mike Conley and Tony Allen did not look too hampered by their respective foot and hamstring injuries that led to them missing the end of the regular season. Conley especially looked speedy (beep beep) on multiple drives and finishes, while Tony Allen was his usual disruptive self. The beauty about this series early is that there are three games in six days after a three day lay-off between the last regular season game and game one. That means four games in ten days, with three of those coming in Memphis. More opportunities for rest and healing for TA/managing pain and swelling for Conley. The Grizzlies training staff did a good job wrapping Conley's foot whenever he was out with a heating pad and giving him treatment in-game. This must continue for Mike to continue to play and be a factor in the series.
  • Marc Gasol had a remarkably well-rounded game: 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. He facilitated the offense at times, starting ball movement and finding open shooters when Portland collapsed the paint. He also, as usual, directed the Grizzlies' defense remarkably well and was a coach on the court when it came to positioning and rotations. His three blocks and a steal stand out as well with regard to his impact on the defensive end.
  • Dave Joerger deserves a lot of credit for the performance his team had in game one. Part of good defense and offensive execution is preparation, and at times it appeared as if Memphis knew what was coming before Portland ran the set. Whether it was forcing Robin Lopez to defend in pick-and-roll situations, blowing past Damian Lillard on a variety of screens and picks, or setting up strategic switches and rotations on defense, Memphis was amped and ready for whatever the Trail Blazers threw at them on this night.
Three Things to Watch For Moving Forward
  • Memphis' starting front court was not exactly efficient scoring the ball Sunday night. Zach Randolph (16 points, 6-19 shooting), Marc Gasol (15 points, 7-16 shooting), and Jeff Green (11 points, 3-11 shooting) shot a combined 16-46, or 34.7% shooting overall. The shooting of Mike Conley and Beno Udrih offset some of this inefficiency, but if Memphis hopes to extend the series to a 2-0 lead after Wednesday's game, they must get that number up to 44% or higher collectively.
  • Another thing that was saved by Beno Udrih? The bench's scoring numbers. Memphis' key bench players (played 12 or more minutes) outscored Portland's 31-21, but Portland only outscored Beno alone 21-20. Vince Carter was 1-6, including a missed two-handed slam that would have made 2000 Vince Carter cry. This kind of performance will hurt pretty badly if/when (more than likely when) Beno cools off a bit. It's been discussed here and elsewhere that "Vinsanity" may be on a short leash in terms of playing in this series. Perhaps Jordan Adams will make a non-garbage time appearance in game two if Carter struggles again, or Jeff Green will have to return to the bench to give it some scoring pop.
  • Portland is hoping to have Arron Afflalo back within the next week or so, and he is sorely needed on both offense and defense. Afflalo's return would mean C.J. McCollum could return to the bench (where he is likely best suited to be at this point) and have more potential to score and help their reserves produce a bit more offensively. On defense, Afflalo could help limit some of the penetration that hurt Portland all night long and allow for Damian Lillard to defend players less offensively skilled than Mike Conley. While Afflalo may or may not return by game two Wednesday, if he were able to find a way to play in Portland for game three, it could result in a more competitive series...just possibly too late to help thee Trail Blazers back in to the fight.
No, Beno will probably not shoot that well again, and yes the Trail Blazers' stars will likely shine brighter in Game Two than they did in Game One. It stands to reason, though, that Gasol/Randolph/Green will put up better shooting numbers and that the Grizzlies' defense, as long as Conley and Allen stay in the lineup, can sustain a similar level of play. Portland lacked the horse power to compete with the machine that was the Memphis Grizzlies in Game One, and unfortunately for the Trail Blazers there is no cavalry coming any time soon.

Game one went about as well as it could have for the Bears of Beale Street. The key for these Grizzlies is for this level of execution and intensity to carry over to game two Wednesday night. If it does, the Blazers will be heading back to Portland down 2-0 with more questions and concerns about how to beat the Grizzlies than answers.