Blazers/Grizzlies Pre-Thoughts


Blazer fans, time to take Jay-Z’s advice and get that dirt off our shoulders. And by dirt I mean that not-so-fun last 24 minutes that took place in dirty south. I knew I could tie that in. Several things can help soften that Atlanta loss. For one, it was a weird early afternoon game on Sunday. Selection Sunday nearly erased it from my memories (for several reasons). Also, Utah and Dallas both dropped games tonight so our drop went from 4 to 6 and we’re very much still in reach. Lastly a win tonight wouldn’t hurt. Anyways, tonight Portland will play the second game of this five-game road extravaganza visiting the Grizzlies and their half-filled arena. Get used to seeing Memphis: this is only the second of four matchups between these teams. We’re either really going to love the Grizzlies are they could become an annoyance. Let’s hope the first statement comes true.

Cutting straight to the chase: Memphis is not very good. At all. And I say this the day after they went to Detroit and got a win. But before you toot their horn, that was only their second win in their last 14 games. The talent is in the cupboard but everytime I watch the Grizzlies I never get the sense that they are playing with any sort of purpose. Generally towards the second half of the season there are lottery teams who play above their records and generally scare you (think the Kings last year) and then there are horrible teams who aren’t quite tanking but have that ‘I’ve already planned my vacation’ stank about them. That’s Memphis to me. No team with an unleashed Mike Conley, OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay should be this bad. But they are pretty bad.

As I just mentioned the Grizzlies are led by the three names I just dropped. Conley in particular has been on a tear since being handed the wheels to the car for good. He’s averaging 19 points and 6 assists in the last 5 games and has been a threat to drop 15+ and 7 assists for the past couple months or so. And we all know that both OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay know how to score. We also all know that they are both going to get a lot of shots up. Both average 16 field goal attempts a game and after yesterday’s EL MATADOR defense against Joe Johnson, athletic gunners don’t make my stomach feel too good. The better news is that those are the three guys that are going to beat you. They don’t have a significant post presence that is just going to beat you all night. Marc Gasol has the kind of banger skillset that gives us trouble but that is their frontcourt. And with the three guys I named I wouldn’t be too mad with Gasol getting forcefed. Darko will never scare me and Darrell Arthur hasn’t put up the kind of numbers to put fear in my heart. Not saying he can’t just that he hasn’t. Memphis can’t really shoot either, their best three point shooters are OJ and Conley and given their skill sets I wouldn’t mind them jacking up three’s. Also I will never fear the likes of Mr. Adriana Lima or Quinton Ross, I’m sorry it is a law.

Keys to success:

  • Execute. This works in many ways. You can always out-execute a bad team to win a game, that’s what the Blazers did last time these two teams played. Also Portland does not need to be out there settling for jumpers in a game when they have an advantage in the paint. Not only can LMA go to work inside but the wings can attack the basket and get to the line or penetrate and kick.
  • Make OJ and Rudy work. They are going to put up shots. You want to see Mayo and Rudy get 20 points on 17-19 shots. Batum and co. have the ability to do that I mean as well as he played it took Joe Johnson 27 to get to 35 yesterday. Both these guys are going to get their stats but I’d like to see them have to earn it.
  • Energy. We certainly should have this after that stink bomb that was dropped in the second half. Hopefully the team is rightfully angry and comes out with a chip on their shoulder and on a mission to destroy Memphis.
  • Patience. Even though we’re significantly better than Memphis there is always a chance on the road that we may have to grind it out. Sticking to the game plan should be able to get it done.