NBA Western Conference Preview: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers

Marc Gasol will hit the market this summer as a free agent, but few expect him to leave Memphis where he will likely be awarded a max contract, as the Grizzlies hold his 'Bird rights'
Marc Gasol will hit the market this summer as a free agent, but few expect him to leave Memphis where he will likely be awarded a max contract, as the Grizzlies hold his ‘Bird rights’

Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers
Time: 10:35 PM EDT
Spread: POR -3
O/U: 192
(Memphis leads 3-0)

Betting odds c/o Bovada

The Memphis Grizzlies are expected to be without Mike Conley for Game 4, as he is dealing with both a foot injury and suffered a big blow to the face. The Grizzlies are going to miss his presence, and are 3-point underdogs in NBA live odds. The total for the matchup is set at 192, and for an explanation of how to bet that, see our NBA odds explained.

Summing up the series thus far:

Game 1:

The Grizzlies may have stopped Portland in Game 1, but there is the hidden caveat for Portland that Mike Conley re-injured his ankle. Because Portland’s primary scorer Damian Lillard mans the 1-spot, this will be problematic for Memphis.

Terry Stotts said of backup Beno Udrih that “he’s been here a long time and he’s effective.” While that is true, it is crippling for the Grizzlies to be without Conley. He’s confident in Udrih as a backup, and with good reason; Udrih has carved out a career since beginning with the San Antonio Spurs 11 seasons ago. He’s a very good shooter and smart point guard, and that is picking up right after Conley.

Zach Randolph played well, despite missing a number of shots he typically knocks down. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Memphis, while free agent to-be Marc Gasol had 15 and 11. Jeff Green contributed 11, but it may have been the fear that the Grizzlies put into Portland with a big blowout that was most important. LaMarcus Aldridge simply called it “a wakeup call,” and added that the Grizzlies “manhandled them.”

Game 2:

Memphis came out and “manhandled” them again in Game 2, winning 97-82 to take a 2-0 lead in the best of 7. The Grizzlies put four starters in double figures and got 32 points from its bench. Amazingly, Memphis committed just five turnovers and had 44 points in the paint comparative to Portland’s 34.

The theme of Memphis bigs dominating Aldridge, Lopez is becoming a redundant one in this series. If the Blazers are to come back, it starts on the interior, which is typically a strength for Portland. The fact that it has been rendered just the opposite speaks to how strong the Memphis frontcourt can be.

The Blazers got 24 points from LaMarcus Aldridge but he hit just 7 of 20 from the floor and the team shot just 39 percent. Portland allowed 16 points off its 14 turnovers, which again was a big difference maker in the game. To win Game 3, the Blazers have to shoot the ball better and get it inside more. Aldridge is prone to settling for jumpers (which usually go in), but the issue has to be pressed at the rim that the Blazers are not going to just stand around looking for a whistle when the play gets physical.

Game 3:

The Grizzlies got a big game from free agent to-be Marc Gasol. The Spaniard scored 25 points while knocking down 13 of 14 from the free throw line. He also dished out four assists and grabbed seven boards, and he made his impact defensively as usual, swatting three shots and changing far more.

Every Grizzlies starter scored in double figures except Tony Allen, and shooting guard Courtney Lee was an ultra-efficient shooter, scoring 20 points on just eight field goal attempts, also snagging five boards from the backcourt. The Grizz also got 32 points from its bench, while Portland had 30 (26 of which came from sophomore guard C.J. McCollum.

Nicolas Batum stepped up as was necessary, but giving up 43 free throws the the Grizzlies helped seal Portland’s fate. The Blazers shot 47 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three, but couldn’t keep the Grizz off the stripe and also were negative-3 on the glass. At the half, the Blazers trailed 62 to 49, and coming back from a double-digit deficit against the Grizzlies suffocating defense isn’t easy to do, all the more so in a postseason contest.

Another strong game from Batum in addition to Damian Lillard punishing the reserve Grizzlies guards filling in for Conley could easily result in Portland finagling its first win of this series. Even so, the Grizzlies are up 3-0 and will need to avoid trying to look past this series to its impeding matchup against the Golden State Warriors.

The Grizzlies have had Portland’s number throughout this entire series, but its defense will be far more tested by the Warriors’ high scoring attack. This series really wasn’t anticipated to be of the “tune up” and “sweep” variety, but Memphis can close it out tonight if it’s able to overcome the absence of Conley.

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