Credit: AP Photo/Don Ryan
Game 1: Portland 86 – Memphis 100
Game 2: Portland 82 – Memphis 97
Game 3: Memphis 115 – Portland 109
Game 4: Memphis 92 – Portland 99
Game 5: Portland @ Memphis 9:30 ET
Memphis leads the series 3-1 and tonight they can win and advanced to the Conference Semifinals. To recap quickly what happened in Game 4 we finally saw Damian Lillard step up (32 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge playing his usual self. For Memphis, it showed that they missed Mike Conley and he is an important part of this team if they want to make a postseason run. Let’s look at what to expect from each team tonight.
Credit: Ap Photo/Don Ryan
While we expect Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge to continue to be the 1-2 punch, they still need to have a reliable 3rd scoring option. With Wes Matthews gone it looks like either Arron Afflalo or Nicholas Batum will be the guys to step up. Batum some nights has been playing great while other times he’s been playing terrible and it shows in Portland’s success. Afflalo has only played in 2 games in limited this series while recovering from a shoulder injury and has not done much (5 points in Game 3, 0 in Game 4). Another note to look at is the bench for the Blazers. I’ve been saying this a lot but the bench has not done much. In fact, not a lot of the bench players even played in Game 4 (Only 3 players came off the bench and played). To play only 8 guys in a first round playoff series so that they really do not trust the backups or even third stringers that much.
Tony Allen is the X-Factor for the team. In Game 4, he had great game on defense. He grabbed 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He really did not do well on the offensive floor scoring only 4 points. This really does not come as a huge surprise because he really is only known for his lockdown defense and I think the other players on the floor like Courtney Lee, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol can make up for his lack of an offensive game. It all depends on Mike Conley. We really do not know when Conley will be back so look for guys like Courtney Lee, Beno Udrih and Vince Carter will have to step up.
Not having Mike Conley is an disadvantage for Memphis and a advantage for Portland. Look for Damian Lillard to have another big game and Aldridge to have his usual great game. For the 3rd scoring option it should be Batum but its very uncertain on how well he’ll do. Afflalo will still be limited so we have no clue on what kind of impact he will make. Portland wants to win, they need to play more than 3 guys off the bench to give starters enough so they can perform in crunch time. Memphis will continue to have the deadly frontcourt combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and the presence of Tony Allen locking down defenders on the perimeter. Even without Mike Conley, I still think Memphis will advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.