Coming off their ninth straight win, the Portland Trail Blazers are heading into the game against Memphis on fire. The Grizzlies are currently the top team in the West, and Portland can dethrone them with a win tonight.
These two teams match up against each other perfectly. There will be duels down low between Randolph and Aldridge as well as Lopez and Gasol. But the most important factor needed for one team to gain the advantage is with the point guards, Conley and Lillard.
Although Conley is off to a slow start this season, only putting up big numbers every few games, Memphis continues to win. Lillard, on the other hand, is having a career year, and it’s reflective of Portland’s record.
If the Blazers want to improve their winning streak to 10, there are a few aspects on the Memphis offense that they’ll need to shut down.
First, Lopez and Aldridge can’t let the ball get down low. Randolph and Gasol are both clinical finishers, even over great defenders like Lopez. They need to force them to play the game from outside the key.
Second, don’t leave the Grizzlies’ backcourt open beyond the arc. Conley and Courtney Lee can shoot the three-ball. It’s going to be tough to defend both the paint and the three-point arc, but in order to win both must be limited.
Lastly, they need to score more fast break points. Memphis’s defense is strong; they’ve held opponents to an average of under 100 points this season. To counter this, the Blazers need to be efficient when it comes to fast breaks because, so far this season, they’re 24th out of 30 in that category, scoring a paltry 10 points per game on the fast break.
Memphis is coming into this game looking to expand their lead over the rest of the Western Conference and with the way they’re playing, very few teams look like they can challenge that. They’ve come to Portland to take on the red hot Blazers, so expect a close game.