Memphis Grizzlies (22-20) at Portland Trailblazers (33-12) – 10pm
This is an intriguing matchup tonight between two very talented teams. The Trail Blazers have been one of the NBA’s biggest surprises while the Grizzlies have been disappointments. But with Marc Gasol returning from injury, the Grizz have begun their climb back to playoff contention. Sitting in the 9th they have won 7 of their last 8 games and their last two wins were very impressive, keeping the Houston Rockets 21 points below their season scoring average in a home-and-home sweep. The Trailblazers are the highest scoring team in the league though and this one should be very entertaining.
Mike Conley vs Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is one of the league’s best young point guards. He is averaging 20.7 points per game and is a dominant 4th quarter performer and leader for the Blazers. Mike Conley has become a undersold star for Memphis who carried the team through Gasol’s injury. He is averaging 18 points a game and also plays fantastic on-ball defense. These two will duel all night and may end up deciding this game in the fourth. I like Conley’s game and think he will have some success shutting down Lillard. Don’t forget that Tony Allen, one of the game’s elite defenders, may end up battling Lillard at some point too. But it will come down to these two at the top of the arch all night long. I am calling it a wash.
Batum, Matthews, Wright, and McCollum vs Allen, Lee, Prince, and Johnson
When the Trailblazers have the ball
The wings will look to factor in this game, especially with the Grizzlies being so strong inside with Gasol, Randolph, and Davis. Portland has a deep and dangerous group of wings led by Batum and Matthews. Tony Allen can’t defend both of them so Lee and Prince are going to have to step up or else the Blazers will be reigning threes and running in transition for an easy win. Advantage is definitely Portland’s.
Grizzlies over Trailblazers – 88 to 87
This game will be exciting and I think there’s an upset here. Gasol is too good down low and Conley will have a great game against Lillard. The Grizzlies continue their climb while Portland keeps stumbling.