Trail Blazers/Grizzlies Pre-Game
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 01/05/2010 12:03 PM

    Portland (22-14) returns home after a short stint away from the Rose City seeking revenge on the Memphis Grizzlies (16-16) after they embarrassed the Trail Blazers back on the 27th of November 106-96. There's a little bit of good news/bad news for the Trail Blazers tonight on the injury front. Just a few minutes ago, it was released that LaMarcus Aldridge is probable (left ankle sprain), but Steve Blake is listed as out (pneumonia). This game is huge, as is every game when you are fighting for a playoff position with an injury-riddled roster, but more so when you consider the next four home games are against the Lakers, Cavaliers, Bucks, and Orlando followed by a four-game Eastern swing.

    Memphis rolls into Portland winners of 6 of their last 7 games, including an absolutely dominating performance over the Phoenix Suns, in Phoenix, 128-103. Their only loss in that span was a 5 point defeat at the hands of the Mavericks, in Dallas, 106-101. If it wasn't bad enough that Memphis heads into this match-up red-hot, they have also been in Portland since Sunday night, waiting on the Trail Blazers as Portland was finishing up in Los Angeles late last night. For Portland to avenge their humiliating loss back in November, which saw Memphis take off on a 31-2 run, they must find some way to defend the paint. Zach Randolph has found it, to the tune of 23.6 points per game and an amazing 14.2 rebounds a night in the month of December. Not only does Memphis possess Z-Bo as a low-post presence, but the lighter Marc Gasol is putting up 17.1 points and 10.9 rebounds a night over his past 10 games.

    The main key to last night's game was to win the rebounding battle, which Portland lost badly, 38-29. If the same type of rebounding disparity occurs again tonight, the Blazers will be riding their first two-game losing streak since December 12th. The only blessing in disguise that has happened due to the injuries is the fact everyone knows their role on the team, which helps out the offense tremendously, so I'm not too worried about putting up points the rest of the year. The ongoing problem, at least until Nicolas comes back, will be defense. Just as I thought it would take 20+ assists to beat the Clippers on Wednesday night, if I look up at the end of the night and look at the Hustle Board, whomever wins those three combined categories (Rebounds, Steals, Blocks) will win the game.

    Frankly, I'm going to be terrified of any game in which the opposition features great big man play, because we are so thin up front. On paper, this game looks like it should be signed, sealed, and delivered to the Memphis Grizzlies. They have already beat us here once already, are riding the hottest streak since 2005, and have the personnel to give our current team fits. But, it's a great thing they don't play games on paper. What we have, they don't: Brandon Roy. Look for Roy to bounce back in a big way tonight and lead his team to a gutty, nail-biting victory. It will be tight throughout the game, maybe even seeing the Grizz hold a double digit lead at some point in the game, but the resilient Blazers, behind the Rose Garden crowd, will get it done!
    Game 37 Prediction: Trail Blazers 103 Grizzlies 102
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