Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The Memphis Grizzlies have won its past two contests to pull to within two games of Dallas for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Its opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, are situated third in the West at 33-12 and the Blazers are 18-4 at home. Portland will host Memphis in a game NBA oddsmakers at Bovada are favoring the Blazers by 5.5-points.
The Grizzlies have won seven of its past eight games and are functioning much better on both ends of the court since getting Marc Gasol back. Gasol is an integral part of the Grizzlies offense and he averaged 14.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season while winning the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Grizzlies have also gotten a lift from new acquisition Courtney Lee, who has averaged 15.3 pints per game in his nine appearances as a Grizzly (he’s started seven). Lee will provide further depth to a strong defensive backcourt that features Tony Allen and Mike Conley.
Conley has likely peaked as a player, but he’s a very good point guard, and is averaging 18 points and 6.2 assists per game this season. The Ohio State product averages 1.5 steals per game, too, while Allen averages 2.0 steals per game. The Grizzlies backcourt can cause a lot of problems. James Johnson is another game changer defensively for the Grizzlies and the swingman is averaging 1.4 steals and 1.7 blocks per game in just 23 minutes per contest.
Portland is 33-12 on the season and has the league’s highest scoring offense (109 points per game), but the Blazers were exposed by Golden State on Sunday, losing 103-88 despite 21 points from Wes Matthews. Stephen Curry went absolutely nuts, scoring 38 points and dishing out eight assists and grabbing eight rebounds. Curry hit 13-of-23 from the floor, while Damian Lillard struggled to keep pace, hitting just 5-of-16 en route to 16 points.
Portland’s lackluster defense has to be a concern, given that the Blazers are allowing 103.5 points per game. It’s actually better than last season with Robin Lopez anchoring the paint, but the fast paced game that Portland and Phoenix are successfully employing thus far seldom works in the post season.
The Blazers need to learn how to execute in the half court and force opponents into taking tougher shots. LaMarcus Aldridge is a great isolation option in late game situations, as is Damian Lillard, and the Blazers are fortunate to have two great options that can be ridden in late-game situations.
Lillard has improved most of the facets he needed to: his turnovers are down and his shooting percentages are up. Lillard is turning it over just 2.3 times per game while hitting 41.9 percent from behind the arc. Aldridge and Lillard could potentially both be All-Star reserves, and if the Blazers record is taken into account, they both should be.
Memphis Trends: 6-0 ATS in last 6 vs teams with winning percentages above .600; 6-0 ATS in last 6 vs teams with winning SU records; UNDER 5-0 in last 5 following SU win.
Portland Trends: UNDER 3-0-1 in last 4 after allowing 100 or more in previous game; UNDER 4-0-1 in last 5 following ATS loss; UNDER 3-0-1 in last 4 overall.
Head-to-head: UNDER 6-1 in last 7 meetings; Grizzlies 2-6 ATS in last 8 meetings; UNDER 14-5-1 in last 20 in Portland.