The second day of the NBA seeding action brings a great Western Conference showdown between the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers. These two foes meet for the second and final time this regular season, and the Grizzlies beat the Trail Blazers 111-104 at home on February 12.
Now, the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers take on each other at a neutral site. The tip-off is set at 4:00 PM ET, so let’s take a closer look at both teams and see what can we expect from this clash.
The Grizzlies are without Justise Winslow (hip), but all other guys are ready to go. The Trail Blazers miss Rodney Hood (Achilles tendon), Caleb Swanigan (opted out), and Trevor Ariza (opted out).
What’s at Stake?
The Grizzlies entered the bubble as No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They are seven games behind the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks and 3.5 games ahead of Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento. Hereof, the Grizzlies have one goal at Disney’s, and it’s to keep that eighth seed ahead of the eventual play-in series.
On the other side, the Trail Blazers desperately need a win. They will have a mountain to climb in the next few weeks, and the matchup with the Grizzlies is just the first hurdle.
Both Memphis and Portland return to the floor after a long time. Keep that in mind, as playing the first competitive game in almost five months could be a strong factor.
As I’ve already mentioned, the Grizzlies outlasted the Trail Blazers 111-104 as 3.5-point home favorites back in February. Interestingly, over the last 12 encounters between Memphis and Portland, no team has recorded two straight wins. The Grizzlies are 6-5-1 ATS in that stretch.
The Trail Blazers have been struggling defensively all season, surrendering 114.1 points per 100 possessions (27th in the NBA). Their opponents shoot 37.7% from downtown, so the Trail Blazers are the fourth-worst team when it comes to defending the 3-point line.
On the other side, the Grizzlies allow 110.4 points per 100 possessions (16th) on 36.3% shooting from deep (22nd). Offensively, the Trail Blazers are ninth in the league in points per 100 possessions (112.5), while the Grizzlies are 20th (109.4).
The Grizzlies lean on rookie Ja Morant a lot, and when you take a look at their roster, there are some very young players and no true stars. Still, six different players average points in double figures. Morant is tallying 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per game, while Jaren Jackson Jr. is adding 16.9 points and 4.7 boards a night.
The Trail Blazers will miss Trevor Ariza because they are pretty thin on wings. At least, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are back from injuries, so the Trail Blazers’ frontcourt is stacked. Damian Lillard (28.9 PPG, 7.8 APG) will continue to run the show, and the five-time All-Star needs to step up against Ja Morant and Memphis.
The Trail Blazers have a great opportunity to put huge pressure on the Grizzlies from the very start of the NBA bubble action. They are a more experienced team than Memphis, and I think Damian Lillard will be a key factor in this one.
I’m aware of Portland’s shaky defense, but I believe the Trail Blazers have more dangerous weapons in their arsenal than the Grizzlies. I would rely on their experience, too, so my top betting pick is Portland to win straight up at -130 on William Hill or Sugarhouse. The Trail Blazers are 5-3 SU in their last eight meetings with Memphis when listed as favorites.
Betting on the totals seems like a tricky job. The betting trends suggest the under, but neither team prefers to play at a slow pace. The Grizzlies average 102.8 possessions per 48 minutes (6th in the league), while the Trail Blazers tally 100.7 possessions per 48 minutes (12th). Also, both teams are in the top half when it comes to field goal percentage.
Betting on Damian Lillard in the over on his point total is another interesting option. However, I would avoid any serious player-prop wagering in the first week of this NBA bubble action.