The Memphis Grizzlies were long the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference but down the stretch of the season, they slipped a bit and ended up fourth. Even so, they have a very favorable matchup against Portland in Round 1. They’re a sizable favorite on the NBA betting lines for Game 1.
The Portland Trail Blazers can win because…
Memphis has faded down the stretch of the season. This is a team that – at one point – was the clear-cut No. 2 seed in the conference and looked like a threat to unseat Golden State for the top spot. On February 23rd, they were 27 games above .500. However, when you look up at the final standings, you’ll notice that the Grizzlies were just 14-13 in their final 27 games. The issue for Memphis is that their offense tapered off. They were averaging 100.6 points per game before the All-Star break but finished the year at 98.3. Although the Trail Blazers have a tough time scoring against Memphis, the flip side is that Memphis has been having trouble scoring against everybody, so there is an opening for the Blazers to win some ugly games.
If Damian Lillard can step up and LaMarcus Aldridge can provide support inside, there is no reason the Blazers can’t cover the number on the NBA betting odds for Game 1.
The Memphis Grizzlies can win because…
The Blazers not a very good team right now. Portland is banged up right now and that might be the deciding factor in a matchup of two teams that otherwise might be equal. They lost starting shooting guard Wesley Mathews earlier in the season, Arron Afflalo is banged up and the team is without forward Dorrell Wright. This is a team that’s struggled to get help off the bench and they are going to be in trouble in this series. The Blazers only get 23.6 points per game from their bench and that’s the worst number in the NBA.
The other concern for Portland here is that they are going up against a strong defense. Memphis, with its size, strength inside and quality defense, is built for the playoffs. The Trail Blazers are a soft finesse team that looks like they’ll get muscled out.
Memphis controls this series as they’ve won nine of the last 11 meetings overall while covering eight of those games. They swept the season series, winning and covering all four times. This is just a bad matchup for Portland, so look for Memphis to get on top by winning and covering the NBA spread in Game 1.
This is just a bad situation for Portland. They enter the playoffs on a four-game losing streak and they have lost 11 of their last 18 games. They’re without their starting shooting guard and a number of other players are banged up. Beyond that, they don’t fare well in this series as they lost all four meetings this season while scoring just 93.8 points per game. With Memphis having home-court advantage for Game 1, look for them to take charge for your NBA picks. It’s a short number but given all of the previous factors, they should cover.
NBA Pick: Grizzlies -4.5 at Bovada