Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies 8/15/20: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Matchup Preview

After a long two weeks of NBA action from the bubble in Orlando, the Western Conference play-in game is officially set. The 8th seeded Portland Trail Blazers (35-39) will take on the 9th seeded Memphis Grizzlies (34-39) in the first play-in game. Portland rallied from behind to claim the 8th seed, with their chances at making the playoffs coming down to the last shot against the Nets on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies entered the bubble as the 8th seed but went 2-6 during the bubble to drop to #9. Thankfully for them, they were still within four games of Portland, so a play-in tournament was forced. For the Trail Blazers to advance to the first round, all they have to do is win one of two possible games that can be played between the two teams this weekend. If Memphis wants to advance to face the Lakers in the first round, they would need to beat the Blazers both in this game and again the next day. Although Memphis will be without Jaren Jackson Jr., who suffered a torn meniscus early on in the bubble, I think that this game could be a competitive one. Part of me wishes that one more team from the West could be invited to the play-in, as the Phoenix Suns went 8-0 in bubble play. They deserve a shot at making the playoffs, but unfortunately, the basketball gods were not kind to them with the tiebreakers.

TV Schedule

Date: 8/15/20
Time: 2:30 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
Channel: ABC

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Grizzlies Starting 5

PG: Ja Morant
SG: Dillon Brooks
SF: Kyle Anderson
PF: Anthony Tolliver
C: Jonas Valanciunas

Grizzlies Analysis

Memphis Grizzlies
Many people have been arguing that the Memphis Grizzlies do not deserve to be in this play-in game. The team went 2-6 in the bubble and are only got in thanks to the Bucks appearing to not care about their last game. Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins is also a former assistant of Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, so it is possible that Bud wanted to help Jenkins make the playoffs. Nonetheless, Memphis would like to silence those haters and prove that they belong in the play-in game. The Grizzlies are led by Ja Morant, who has all but sealed up the Rookie of the Year Award by leading his team to the play-in game. Morant is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 17.8 points per game and 7.3 assists per game. He is a special talent who will showcase his skills on the biggest stage of his young career. Other notable pieces on this team include Dillon Brooks, Jonas Valanciunas, and Brandon Clarke. Brooks is a solid scorer, with an average of 16.2 points per game. However, he isn’t the best on the defensive side of the ball. Valanciunas is the same way, as he provides solid scoring and rebounding but isn’t an insane defender. Rookie Brandon Clarke averages 12.1 points per game for the Grizzlies and has been somewhat of a surprise contributor off the bench. It’s going to take a ton of effort from this whole team to make the 8th seed, but I think that Memphis can do so.

Trail Blazers Starting 5

PG: Damian Lillard
SG: CJ McCollum
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Zach Collins
C: Jusuf Nurkic

Trail Blazers Analysis

Portland Trail Blazers
After losing by five to the Los Angeles Clippers and getting chirped by Paul George and Patrick Beverly, Damian Lillard flipped a switch the last few games. Lillard led the Trail Blazers to three straight wins to lead them to the 8th seed in the West, scoring 51, 61, and 42 in each of those games. Lillard was a man on a mission, and I expect him and this Blazers team to take care of business against the Grizzlies. They have more star power and are a better overall team on paper. In addition to the superstar that is Damian Lillard, the Blazers have several other solid scorers on the team. C.J. McCollum has been paired alongside Lillard for years and continually produces at a high level next to him. McCollum averages 22.2 points per game and has contributed even though he is currently playing with a broken bone in his back. Jusuf Nurkic has also been a reliable piece for the Blazers since returning from injury in the bubble. He averaged 17.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game for Portland. Hassan Whiteside is also a reliable shot-blocker and rebounder off the bench for the Blazers. Finally, the team picked up Carmelo Anthony early in the season, and he has been a solid scoring option for them. When looking at the two teams on paper, it is clear that Portland is the favorite and poses a bigger threat against the Lakers in the 1st round.

Trail Blazers vs Grizzlies Fantasy Basketball Angle

damian lillardNearly every single time that I have covered a Blazers game on this site, I have chosen only one player to highlight. For the daily fantasy angle, I am once again going with Damian Lillard. The man has single-handedly willed his team to the playoffs, scoring a combined 154 points in the season’s final three games. The Trail Blazers won all three of those games, and Lillard silenced haters saying that he could not win. However, his team still has not clinched a spot in the playoffs. In order to do so, the Blazers need to win one of the next two games. With that in mind, I expect Lillard to come out hot again in this matchup. Whether he scores 40, 50, or even 60, this guy will score a lot of points in this game, I guarantee it. Start Lillard on your fantasy team if you have him.

Trail Blazers vs Grizzlies Betting Odds

Grizzlies Odds: +250
Trail Blazers Odds: -310
Over/Under: 232.5

The oddsmakers are favoring the Trail Blazers in this matchup, and I would have to agree. The Grizzlies haven’t looked great as of late, going 2-6 during bubble play. On the other, the Blazers are rolling and are on a three-game win streak that propelled them into the playoffs. If I were a betting man, I’d certainly take Portland in this matchup.

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I am a rising junior at Butler University with a Sports Media major and a minor in Strategic Communication. I was born and raised in Bethesda, MD right outside Washington DC, and I’ve been a huge DC sports fan my whole life. I’ve been lucky enough to see both the Nats and Caps win titles in my lifetime, however I have a feeling that my Redskins and Wizards won’t be joining them as champions anytime soon.

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