Memphis Grizzlies vs Portland Trail Blazers Preview and Predictions -03-12-2020
Grizzlies looking to bounce back on the road
In the months ahead of the 2019-20 season, there were plenty of questions surrounding what type of team that the Grizzlies would be, which many saw them being well out of the mix for the playoffs. Instead, they have guided their way into the mix for the playoff picture as they have a strong grip on the final spot in the Western Conference despite being a couple of games below the .500 mark. Memphis has a promising group of young and unproven talent to head the charge on the court that has guided them to this promising spot with a bright future ahead of them. That has been led by the strong play of rookie point guard Ja Morant.
Morant has proven to be the real deal working his way towards being well in the mix as the frontrunner to earn the Rookie of the Year award. He has played ever bit like a franchise player that has continued to guide the franchise to the playoff picture. Morant is averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per contest while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. He’s coming off back-to-back 20-point performances. Meanwhile, it has been more than his production with big man Jonas Valanciunas has continued to be their most-reliable asset in the frontcourt as he has back-to-back 20-point and 10-rebound double-doubles in the previous two contests. His production alongside Morant will be key in helping the Grizzlies grab a much-need win on the road.
Blazers hoping to make a strong playoff push
The Blazers had entered the offseason with plenty of optimism around the team after reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time in nearly two decades. However, it has been met with much of a struggle to work their way into the playoff picture, as they continued their uphill battle to get above the .500 mark this season. Portland has dealt with significant injuries throughout the year while their huge roster turnover from last offseason has played a notable part in them stumbling their way below the .500 mark. The Blazers have picked up things as of late as they are just 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the eighth playoff spot heading into Thursday’s contest.
The Blazers recently got All-Star point guard Damian Lillard back in the mix after he missed a couple of weeks due to a nagging knee injury. Lillard has been one of the league’s potent scorers, averaging 28.9 points per contest, which is currently fifth in the NBA. Since his return to the mix, he has notched at least 20 points in three out of the previous four games played while shooting greater than 50 percent from the floor twice in those such instances. It has also seen CJ McCollum step it up offensively with Lillard out and continue that forward march as he has scored more than 20 points in four out of his last five games played. That includes putting up 41 points against the Orlando Magic. If the Blazers hope to etch out a much-needed home win against the Grizzlies that will require their dynamic backcourt duo to put up strong performances.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers, commonly known as the Blazers, are an American professional basketball team based in Portland, Oregon. The Trail Blazers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Northwest Division. The team played its home games in the Memorial Coliseum before moving to Moda Center in 1995 (called the Rose Garden until 2013). The franchise entered the league as an expansion team in 1970, and has enjoyed a strong following: from 1977 through 1995, the team sold out 814 consecutive home games, the longest such streak in American major professional sports at the time, and only since surpassed by the Boston Red Sox. The Trail Blazers are the only NBA team based in the bi-national Pacific Northwest, after the Vancouver Grizzlies relocated to Memphis and became the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001 and the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
The team has advanced to the NBA Finals three times, winning the NBA championship once in 1977. Their other NBA Finals appearances were in 1990 and 1992. The team has qualified for the playoffs in 34 seasons of their 48-season existence, including a streak of 21 straight appearances from 1983 through 2003, tied for the second longest streak in NBA history. The Trail Blazers’ 34 playoff appearances rank third in the NBA only behind the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs since the team’s inception in 1970. Six Hall of Fame players have played for the Trail Blazers (Lenny Wilkens, Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, Dražen Petrović, Arvydas Sabonis, and Scottie Pippen). Bill Walton is the franchise’s most decorated player; he was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 1977, and the regular season MVP the following year. Four Blazer rookies (Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, Brandon Roy and Damian Lillard) have won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Three players have earned the Most Improved Player award: Kevin Duckworth (1988), Zach Randolph (2004), and CJ McCollum (2016). Two Hall of Fame coaches, Lenny Wilkens and Jack Ramsay, have patrolled the sidelines for the Blazers, and two others, Mike Schuler and Mike Dunleavy, have won the NBA Coach of the Year Award with the team.