Who: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trailblazers
When: 9:00 pm CST
Where: Rose Garden Arena, Portland, Oregon
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (25-19), Portland Trailblazers (21-25)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Portland: Raymond Felton, Wes Mathews, Nicolas Batum, LeMarcus Aldridge, Joel Pryzbilla
Memphis is suddenly cold, going 1-3 in their last four games, after being one of the hottest teams in the league since the All-Star break. The loss to the Lakers seems to have knocked the Grizzlies off stride and the return of Z-Bo hasn’t produced the lift yet that the team had hoped for.
And now the Grizzlies are adding a new point guard to the mix. Well, maybe new isn’t the right word. Gilbert Arenas, the three time All-Star, has signed with Memphis for the league minimum to strengthen the Grizzlies back up PG position which has been less than efficient this season. How well he fits into the system and what he has left in his legs has yet to be determined but this is another move that proves the Grizzlies are looking at now as their chance to make a serious run.
Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Tony Allen have all shown signs of fatigue at different points this year so the return of Z-Bo and the signing of Arenas along with Marreese Speights, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter and O J Mayo the Grizzlies are suddenly one of the deepest teams in the league. Coach Hollins just needs to make sure everyone is on the same page. With the Grizzlies living on the road for the next few weeks, he doesn’t have a lot of time to work things together.
Portland is going in the opposite direction. The leadership of the Blazers decided that their team wasn’t built to compete for a championship and, instead of waiting around for time to gradually ravage the team, they blew up their core, fired their coach and launched into a fast rebuilding strategy.
Gone are Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby and Nate McMillan and in their place are Joel Pryzbilla, Nicolas Batum and Kaleb Canales. Also in are Hasheem Thabeet, Mehmet Okur, Johnny Flynn and Shawne Williams. Former Tiger Elliot Williams is on Portland’s roster but an injured shoulder will not allow him to play.
Prediction: Portland hasn’t beaten Memphis in back to back home games in quite a while. That streak continues as the Grizzlies bounce back from a poor effort in Sacramento to get the win.