Game Details: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN. 5:00 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: KXTG (95.5 FM)
Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Andre Miller (#24, 6′2″, Utah), SG Brandon Roy (#7, 6′6″, Washington), SF Wesley Matthews (#2, 6′5″, Marquette), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6′11″, Texas), C Marcus Camby (#23, 6′11″, UMass)
Projected Memphis Starting Lineup: PG Mike Conley (#11, 6′1″, Ohio State), SG Xavier Henry (#13, 6′6″, Memphis), SF Rudy Gay (#22, 6′8″, Connecticut), PF Zach Randolph (#50, 6′9″, Michigan State), C Marc Gasol (#33, 7′1″, Spain)
Yesterday’s loss to the Spurs was something of a reality check for the Blazers. They had rattled off a fairly impressive string of four wins, including one over Orlando. But the Spurs showed them what happens when a should-be contender still searching for its rhythm faces a locked-in title favorite. They were simply outplayed and outcoached by a superior team, and you can’t get too mad at that. Today, they try to rebound against the Memphis Grizzlies, a team they’ve already beaten once this year but one that can be dangerous if you let them.
Both teams will field slightly different starting lineups from the last contest. The last time these teams played, Brandon Roy was sidelined with knee troubles and Wesley Matthews made his first start of the season. That game served as something of a coming-out party for him, as he scored a career-high 30 points. His recent success has been rewarded with a continuing spot in the starting lineup, except now it’s at the expense of Nicolas Batum. Roy is back, and the other night’s match against Phoenix proved that he’s still capable of playing at his normal high level. This could be the difference tonight for the Blazers–they pulled out a win against Memphis a couple of weeks ago, but it was definitely of the too-close-for-comfort variety. Having a closer like Roy on the floor could prove huge. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have moved rookie Xavier Henry into their starting lineup in place of O.J. Mayo, who has struggled mightily in the shooting department and is now the subject of much trade speculation.
The good news for the Blazers is that the Grizzlies don’t play much defense. If Portland’s shots fall, there’s no reason they shouldn’t run away with this game. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are rebounding threats on both ends of the floor, and having Joel Przybilla back in the rotation should help the Blazers keep up with them. Defense will be key, with Rudy Gay and Randolph likely demanding the most attention. Randolph in particular is a major threat in the paint, so look LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, and Przybilla to step up their intensity tonight. The Blazers have had a lot of back-to-backs on the early part of their schedule, and if they haven’t had the kind of phenomenal success so far this year that they had on the second halves of them last season, they’ve at least been holding their own. A win tonight would ensure nothing less than a split of their current four-game road trip, which wraps up in Dallas on Wednesday.