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Grizzlies vs. Blazers Game 3 Preview: Grizz on a Mission

After taking the franchise's first ever 2-0 playoff series lead, the Grizzlies travel to Portland looking to push the Blazers to the brink.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

How We Got Here

The Memphis Grizzlies lead the series 2-0 thanks to some stifling defense in the Grindhouse. The Grizzlies' offensive efficiency has seen a slight uptick (104.5 vs. 103.1 in the regular season) but the biggest component is their defensive tenacity, which has held Portland to an average of 84 points the first two games, netting an 89.2 defensive rating. That's right up there with the best stretches of the Grit & Grind era, and if the Grizz can keep it up, it bodes well for this playoff run.

Grizzlies vs Trail Blazers coverage

Opponent's Blog: Blazer's Edge


Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews (Out, Achilles), Arron Afflalo (Probable, Shoulder), Chris Kaman (Questionable, Ankle), Dorell Wright (Questionable, Hand)

Grizzlies: Beno Udrih (Probable, Ankle)

Points of Grizzly Emphasis

Continue the Frustration

LaMarcus Aldridge has been repeatedly, visibly frustrated with the Memphis defense and the physical nature of playoff basketball. While he's put up big numbers – 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks a game – he's done so at the cost of efficiency, shooting just 37%. He's not alone though, as their 4 leading shot takers are all struggling to make shots - Aldridge, Lillard (27%), Batum (37%), and C.J. McCollum (19%).  Some of their combined 32% is likely cold shooting, but Tony Allen's 30 minutes per game have been classic Tony Allen – high energy, aggressive, First Team defense – and he has been the driving force behind this frustrating defense once again.

Beware the Moda

Portland was a relatively poor road team this season, but their home record was actually better than the Grizzlies'.  They love playing in the friendly confines of the Moda Center. The Grizzlies will need to show up and play with consistent tenacity if they plan to continue the results from the first two games. Memphis did have success in Portland during the regular season, handing the Blazers 2 of their 9 home losses, so there's reason to believe they can succeed again. With Arron Afflalo back in the lineup and Game 3 on their home court, expect the Trail Blazers to be looking for revenge.

The Two-Headed Point Guard

Through two games, Mike Conley has returned from injury to lead the Grizzlies with 17 points per game. That's not entirely surprising, but Beno Udrih being tied for second on the team with 15 points per game likely is. Beno and Mike have combined for 32 points, 5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game on 56% shooting. Compare that to the 16/5/4 on 24% shooting the Blazers have received from Lillard and Steve Blake, and you have possibly the biggest individual factor in the series thus far. Beno's midrange game is tailored for the holes in Portland's D, and they don't seem to have anyone who can guard Conley. Look for this to be a matchup the Grizzlies continue to exploit.

VC and Lee

Vince Carter had a very nice Game 2, putting up 9 points on 3-5 from 3-point land, while also grabbing 4 rebounds and a steal in 14 minutes. Courtney Lee has hit 4 of 5 from 3 in the series and has 13.5 PPG through the first two.    While the two are unlikely to be hot every game, their shooting is important not just for this series but for dictating how teams defend the Grizzlies throughout these playoffs.

Why you should watch this game

It's the playoffs, man! Z-Bo's dropping double-doubles. TA's playing like a man trying to leave a legacy.   Marc's carving the D with his passing and shutting down Portland's offense in the paint.  Conley and Udrih are smooth assassins with Memphis on their chest. Shooters are hitting shots. The Grizzlies defense is in full, smothering, in-your-face bloom. Who wouldn't want to tune in for this?

2014/15 Playoffs, Round 1, Game 3
2014/15 Regular Season:
55-27 (24-17 Road)
2014/15 Regular Season:
51-31 (32-9 Home)
Moda Center, Portland, OR
Saturday, April 25th
9:30 PM CDT
ESPN / Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Damian Lillard
Courtney Lee SG Arron Afflalo
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)