The Portland Trail Blazers are in deep trouble against the Memphis Grizzlies to the point that it seems winning the series is just not realistic. However, winning one or two games in the series is very much within reason. Can Portland start by taking a big first step on Saturday night or at least covering the NBA betting spread?
The Memphis Grizzlies Can Win Because…
They are dominating this series against an opponent that just doesn’t have enough bodies to keep up. Portland watched with dismay as backup center Chris Kaman twisted his ankle before Game 2 of this series on Wednesday night. Being unable to call upon reliable bench players enabled Memphis to once again gain a big advantage as soon as Portland had to rest its starters. The Blazers played three of their starters at least 40 minutes in Game 2, but they still had to play two bench players for extended minutes, since Allen Crabbe (a fill-in starter) played just 23 minutes and Robin Lopez played 31. C.J. McCollum scored just six points in 29 points. The one good bench player for Portland was Meyers Leonard, who scored 10 points in 18 minutes. Generally, Portland’s bench was massively outplayed once again. Memphis outscored the Blazers’ reserves, 32-16. Since the game was decided by 15 points, 97-82, it’s fair to say that that was a central key to the Grizzlies’ win.
Portland is facing the fact that if its starters aren’t great, it has no real chance so you might want to keep this in mind when looking at the NBA Odds on offer. This is causing young point guard Damian Lillard to press too much. He’s been unable to relax this series, and Memphis guard Mike Conley knows that if he can shut down Lillard, the Grizzlies are going to control everything that happens on the court. That’s what has happened. Lillard missed each of his first six shots in Game 1. In Game 2, he went 1 of 6 to start the game and finished 5 of 16, just 1 of 5 from three. As was also the case in Game 1, LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland in scoring, but he did so when hitting below 40 percent of his shots. In Game 1, Aldridge was 13 of 34. In Game 2, he was 7 of 20. He’s scoring some points because he can get to the free throw line, but he’s still not effective. Memphis is in a defensive rhythm. It can play great defense and not have to score 100 points to win. Portland just doesn’t have enough diversity or depth in its offense.
The Portland Trail Blazers Can Win Because…
They are playing at home, and they know that if they don’t win this game, their season will essentially be over, even though it won’t technically end. Mike Conley has had the upper hand this series, but you have to think that Damian Lillard is going to break free for at least one really good game. He’s too talented to be awful in every game this series. On top of that, the Blazers should get some reinforcements back with Chris Kaman and Arron Afflalo (hopefully). That figures to be significant for a team that is super-thing right now.
If those things come to fruition, that points the way toward a better performance for the Blazers and a victory in the end.
Lillard will probably play his best game of the season at home but that might not be enough. They’ll need him and Arron Afflalo to not only come back, but contribute in a meaningful way. The bottom line is the Blazers are a soft team, they are banged up and this is a really bad matchup for them. Beyond that, Randolph and Gasol haven’t even played a good game yet as they’re average a combined 28.0 points per game on the series on about 33% shooting. That should change. Take Memphis with your NBA picks as they should stay on top of them and get the win.
NBA Pick: Grizzlies at The Greek