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NBA Weekend Betting: Memphis vs. Portland Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 3/29/2014 9:59:39 AM

The Memphis Grizzlies are continuing to solidify their position in the Western Conference. They're out of the eighth spot, percentage points ahead of the Dallas Mavericks in the race for seventh position. Memphis isn't dazzling anyone, but it is just playing solid basketball, and at the bottom of a conference's playoff order, that's generally good enough to make gains as the season moves along and nears its endpoint in the middle of April. The Portland Trail Blazers are a team that is not remaining as strong as it would like to in the Western Conference. Portland has been on a steady but slow decline over the past two months or so. There's been no spectacular collapse, but the wear and tear of the season has caught up with a team that played way above expectations for a good long while. How will these teams react to Sunday's game in Portland?

Memphis Grizzlies @ Portland Trail Blazers

The Memphis Grizzlies have won seven of their past 10 games. The Grizzlies are relying on what they know how to do. Their defense remains as effective as it's ever been. The Griz are still best in the West on defense, giving up just 94.1 points per game. Their offense is slowly but steadily getting better, approaching 96 points per game (it was lower in previous weeks, especially because Marc Gasol was out of the lineup during much of the winter with an injury, hurting the team and forcing it to make the playoff push it has made over the past two months). The fact that Memphis was at such a disadvantage earlier in the season makes Memphis that much more fearsome right now. The San Antonio Spurs have been the best team in the NBA over the past two months, but Memphis is right along with the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets in terms of being second, behind San Antonio. This is going to be a game in which Memphis will try to repeat something it has already done this season: win in Portland. As for the Trail Blazers, they've lost six of their past 10 and are just not as healthy or strong as they were earlier in the season. LaMarcus Aldridge has been dealing with a back problem, and although the Blazers have a winning record without Aldridge, they've beaten teams without winning records for most of that stretch. Portland needs Aldridge to be great and healthy if it wants to win in the playoffs. The Blazers can at least spread the court with a smaller lineup in which Dorell Wright should get a lot more minutes than he has in previous months. Wright should have fresh legs, and he has a long-range jump shot that will force Memphis' post players, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, to come out and guard him away from the basket. Portland can play a fast-paced game and use three-pointers to throw Memphis' defense off balance. That's Portland's hope in this game, and it just might be good enough to work on one night in one game at home.

Prediction:

All in all, the probability is that Memphis will establish the tempo in this game. The Grizzlies are in a good grove, while Portland's lineup is just too unpredictable from one game to the next. Memphis wants to solidify its playoff position even more. Portland's safe in terms of the playoffs, so motivation should help the Grizzlies win another road game in Oregon.

Pick: Memphis

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