Game 4 Preview: (4) Portland Trail Blazers v.s. (5) Memphis Grizzlies

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three

Game 1: Memphis 100 – Portland 86

Game 2: Memphis 97 – Portland 82

Game 3: Memphis 115 – Portland 109

Game 4 is tonight at 10:30 P.M. ET on TNT

The Memphis Grizzlies have taken a commanding 3-0 lead over the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, the Grizzlies are 7-0 when facing the Trail Blazers. This is the best possible matchup for the Grizzlies and worst possible matchup for the Trail Blazers.

Tonight is a pivotal Game 4. If you are the Grizzlies, you are looking for the sweep to have fresh legs for the second round. If you are the Trail Blazers, you are doing all you can to convince LaMarcus Aldridge to re-sign in Portland this offseason. Game 4 may be his last in Red, Black, and White.

LMA

Game 3 involved a much different Portland Trail Blazers team. Damian Lillard had his best game of the season dropping 22 points and 9 assists. Nicolas Batum scored 27 points and finally proved he can be a third scoring option. C.J McCollum even found a way to score 26 points off of the bench which looked desperate for production in games one and two. A defensive presence down low is killing the Trail Blazers.

Game 3 proved to the rest of the NBA that the Memphis Grizzlies live and die inside the paint. Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Jeff Green were forces down low all game. Trail Blazers defenders were being pushed forcefully out of the paint for constant slam dunks. Momentum always seemed to be going in the Grizzlies direction. They will need to pound it down low tonight, especially with the absence of Mike Conley.

Mike Conley had to leave Game 3 early due to a terrifying shot to the face off of the elbow of C.J McCollum.


Conley took to Twitter at the end of Game 3:

We hope for a speedy recovery. Beno Urdih will start at point guard.

Mike Conley out gives Damian Lillard a HUGE advantage. Lillard hasn’t been the star everyone expected to see through the first three games of the series. For the Trail Blazers to have any chance of winning the series, Lillard needs to be a star. Lillard is shooting a horrendous 3-18 from behind the arc in the first three games.

Memphis’ defense is what will win them Game 4. Here are the +/- stats for both starting lineups this series:

Game 1: MEM: +65, POR: -71

Game 2: MEM: +24, POR, -47

Game 3: MEM: +33, POR: -24

Portland is giving Memphis the series due to lack of toughness.

Defense

The farthest the Portland Trail Blazers have gone in the playoffs since they drafted LaMarcus Aldridge was the semi-finals where they lost 4-1 last year against the San Antonio Spurs. In Game 3, LaMarcus Aldridge looked afraid to go into the paint and was air-balling contested long mid-range jumpers. Aldridge was playing like he wanted the series to end as soon as possible. With the Western Conference as strong as it is, LaMarcus will leave if the Trail Blazers get swept.

Predictions for the rest of the series:

Alec Walt (@AlecWalt): Memphis in 4

Alfonso DeFalco (@FonzyDeFalco): Memphis in 5

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