The Scouting Report: Memphis Grizzlies

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Projected starting line-up: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

The Memphis Grizzlies looked prime for a deep playoff run. With the acquisition of Jeff Green and the improved offensive efficiency have resulted in the second-best record in the Western Conference.

The Grizzlies have had an 11-day layoff since their last game before the All-Star break, which was a 16-point loss at Oklahoma City to the Thunder. But the Grizzlies have had the Blazers’ number so far this year, even notching a win without Mike Conley back in January.

The Blazers were without Robin Lopez in that game but in the only game when both teams were healthy, the Grizzlies dominated the Blazers on their home floor.

What were the differences? Part of it starts with the bench.

The Grizzlies bench outplayed Portland’s in the first meeting and then with the addition of Jeff Green, the gap was extended even further. But tonight will be Portland’s first game with new shooting guard Arron Afflalo, presumably coming in as the team’s 6th man.

Meyers Leonard did not find his shot in the last meeting and in general, Memphis’ back-up big men have outplayed Portland’s in the first two games.

But no matter where it is, the Blazers have to play better defense against the Grizzlies if they want a chance to win on Sunday.

The Grizzlies have put of offensive ratings of 115 and 119 against the Blazers so far this season. Portland has been one of the league’s best defenses all season, but against the Grizzlies, they’ve been objectively bad.

It must start with getting stops for the Blazers tonight. The Grizzlies have a reputation for great defense and for grinding teams to a halt. But against Portland, the Grizzlies have the utmost discipline and confidence that they will get the shots that they want.

Gasol is a terror for any front court, operating from the high post and being as aggressive as ever in looking for his shot. And Zach Randolph is still a bully on the low block. Portland has also had trouble trying to contain Conley in the times they’ve faced each other.

Sunday begins a stretch of very tough home games for the Blazers. The Grizzlies have outplayed Portland in two games and Portland needed a furious late rally to make the score close in the second meeting.

It will be interesting to see how much the arrival of Afflalo tips the scales, if at all, in Sunday’s match-up. They will have to work out the kinks but there is no doubt the Blazers are more formidable than the last time these two teams met.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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