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Game 3 Preview: Trail Blazers vs. Grizzlies

Basketball Insiders previews Game 3 of the Trail Blazers-Grizzlies series.

Jesse Blancarte profile picture
Updated 11 months ago on
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#4 –Portland Trail Blazers

Entering Game 2, we knew the Portland Trail Blazers would need a better effort from star point guard Damian Lillard. Unfortunately, Lillard did not have the bounce back game Portland was hoping for. He shot 5-of-16 from the field in 40 minutes of action, including 1-of-5 from beyond-the-arc (and is now 10-of-37 in the series).

However, the Trail Blazers’ issues at guard go beyond Lillard’s struggles. C.J. McCollum, Steve Blake, Allen Crabbe and Lillard played a combined 101 minutes in Game 2. In those 101 minutes, the Trail Blazers’ guards contributed a combined 27 points, two assists, seven rebounds, one steal and two turnovers while shooting 29 percent from the floor (9-of-31). That simply won’t get it done – especially when the Trail Blazers’ guards are doing little to slow down the Memphis Grizzlies’ backcourt.

On the bright side, LaMarcus Aldridge put up a strong effort in Game 2. He finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds, one assist and four blocks, but shot just 7-of-20 overall from the field. He got off to a good start in Game 2 and led the Trail Blazers to a two point lead after the first quarter (21-19). However, things went downhill from there as the Trail Blazers surrendered 31 points to the Grizzlies in the second period and never really challenged Memphis after that.

Some positive news for Portland is that Arron Afflalo (shoulder strain) insists that he will be active for Game 3. It’s unclear how healthy he is, how rusty he will be and how much he can actually contribute. However, he at least adds some size and defensive-focus to a Portland backcourt that is struggling mightily through the first two games.

The Trail Blazers are surely hoping that playing at home will give them the spark they need to get back in this series.

#5 –Memphis Grizzlies

Mike Conley is still bothered by his lingering foot injury, but that didn’t prevent him from thoroughly outplaying Lillard for the second game in a row. Conley contributed 18 points, six assists and one rebound while shooting 6-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range in just 29 minutes of action. But it wasn’t just Conley making an impact in Memphis’ backcourt.

Courtney Lee, Vince Carter and Beno Udrih shot a collective 15-of-26 from the field and 7-of-15 from distance. For the second game in a row, Portland had no answer for Memphis’ backcourt. Because of this, it didn’t really matter that Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph shot just 9-of-31 from the field and scored 25 points collectively.

The Grizzlies were simply too much again for the shorthanded Trail Blazers in Game 2, winning just about every statistical category except for overall rebounds, blocks and free throws taken. For Memphis, they must now go into Portland and continue asserting their physical style of play on the Trail Blazers’ worn down roster.

It’s never easy facing the Grizzlies and their grit-and-grind defense, especially when you are going against them repeatedly and playing heavy minutes. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts relied on his star players heavily in Game 2 (40+ minutes for Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Lillard), while Tony Allen led the way for Memphis with 36 minutes of playing time. Keep an eye out for Portland’s overall energy level to see if Memphis is wearing them down physically. Fortunately for the Trail Blazers, they have until Saturday to rest and recover.

Who Wins Game 3?

With all the injuries and the complete lock-down of Lillard up to this point, Memphis likely takes Game 3 in Portland.

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Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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