There’s a lot on the line when Portland takes on Memphis Tuesday night.
But it’s kind of a Let’s Make a Deal problem — you don’t know what you’re getting once you pick the door. The new car or the goat.
This game may well decide sixth seed in the West — Portland gets it with a win; Memphis gets it with a win and knocking off the Clippers Wednesday. The problem is the other side of that door — the six seed plays the three seed, but we have no idea who that will be. Could be Dallas, could be Oklahoma City, could be the Lakers. The loser of this game could get any of those three as well.
So, big game with something on the line. You could win the new car, you could win the goat.
These teams have not met since December, a Memphis win. But that was during the “Brandon Roy is going to play through the knee pain” part of the season in Portland and he was 3-for-16 shooting. Portland also struggled in that game on its spot-up shooting (usually 20.3 percent of their offense, according to Synergy) and that hurt them. They will have to knock down jumpers on Tuesday night.
Things to watch in this game:
• How well does Portland defend the paint? Memphis has Zach Randolph, as good a low block scorer as there is in the league, and the versatile Marc Gasol. Portland cannot let them get easy buckets in the paint — if you can force Memphis to shoot jumpers you will be happy. Portland likes to double in the post (particularly with their small lineups) and they will need to be aggressive with that, forcing passes out to the aforementioned jump shooters.
• Who controls the tempo? Portland generally wants it slow (not as slow as the numbers suggest, but they are still seven seconds or more). Memphis, with their lack of jump shooters, wants to run and get transition points.
• Toney Allen on Wes Mathews. Best perimeter matchup in this game (Andrew Miller vs. Mike Conley is close) and if Allen can keep Mathews in check Portland has a harder time scoring.
• Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez against the Grizzlies bench. Portland has some guys who can take over games off the bench, can the Grizzlies contain them?