We should be in for another treat tonight when two of the best teams in the Western Conference meet up. Are we putting our faith in Memphis or Portland when it comes to our NBA picks?
After dropping two straight, the Grizzlies have recovered to win three in a row, which in turn has pushed their overall record to a very impressive 28-11 overall. During the streak, Memphis has topped Phoenix, Brooklyn and Orlando, so the competition hasn't been top notch, yet the wins are all that matter in the end.
Last night the Grizzlies recorded a 106-96 road win over Orlando despite being without floor general Mike Conley, who missed out through injury. Beno Udrih picked up the start in his place and had a solid game, scoring 15 points to go with five assists in 29 minutes of play. Memphis was led by the inside duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph once again - the former had 12 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks, while Randolph went for 18 points and 12 rebounds in the road win. That tandem was practically unstoppable.
It remains to be seen if Conley will be forced to sit out again tonight, but we reckon he's more doubtful than questionable at this point. He's been spotted in a walking boot, and we have a hard time believing the injury will have improved that much over the course of a single night. However, even without Conley, Memphis has shown they shouldn't be taken lightly, and oddsmakers are still holding their faith by listing the home team as the NBA betting odds favorites.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers can't be happy at all with how they played last night against the defending champions. They had a hard time keeping up with a now full strength San Antonio team which now has Kawhi Leonard back in the fold. In the 110-96 loss, Portland shot a solid 50.0 percent from the floor, yet they had a lot of trouble defensively.
That's now two straight losses for the Trail Blazers, who sit at 30-10 overall on the year. They'll wrap up a tough three-game stretch, which has seen them lose to the Clippers and Spurs, with this visit of Memphis, before returning home to play Sacramento on Monday.
Injury wise, Portland's still without starting center Robin Lopez as well as Joel Freeland, which means Chris Kaman will continue to start. Other than that, the Trail Blazers have a relatively clean bill of health.
We were wrong last time we handicapped Portland, but we're going right back to the well again tonight.
Assuming Conley is out, we think Lillard is going to have his way with Udrih and company. Just look at Elfrid Payton last night for reference, as the rookie had one of his best games of his young career against the shorthanded Memphis backcourt.
We know what the Grizzlies would lack in the perimeter they'll be able to make up for with that duo of Gasol and Randolph, but the Trail Blazers will counter-punch with their own stud in Aldridge, who's been playing lights out as always. That's going to be a tough matchup for Memphis however you want to spin it.
With those thoughts in mind, we like Portland to win straight up and take advantage of a potentially shorthanded Memphis team. We're recommending backing the Trail Blazers with your NBA picks tonight.
Free NBA Pick: Portland Trail Blazers +2.5