The Playoffs Are Finally Here

Today marks the start of the NBA Playoffs with a play in game between the Portland Trailblazers and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Blazers only have to beat the Grizzlies once to advance on to play the Los Angeles Lakers, the Grizzlies on the other hand have to beat the Blazers twice to advance. Today’s match up features a solid point guard match in Ja Morant vs Damian Lillard. As you have heard, there’s no player in the NBA playing better than Damian Lillard right now. Lillard has scored 154 points in his last 3 games and is averaging a rock solid 37 points per game since entering the bubble. Ja Morant did everything he could to help his team get into the Playoffs.

The Blazers back court of Lillard and CJ McCollum will face off against the back court of Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks. Carmelo Anthony, Zach Collins, and Jusuf Nurkic will do battle with the Grizzlies front court of Kyle Anderson, Anthony Tolliver, and Jonas Valanciunas. Key bench players for the Blazers include Gary Trent Jr and Hassan Whiteside. For the Grizzlies their key backups are De’Anthony Melton, Brandon Clarke, and Grayson Allen. All in all the Blazers have an advantage at every position except for center, where it’s a wash between Nurkic and Valanciunas. The Grizzlies will need to put a body on Damian Lillard at all times, Dillion Brooks who is arguably the best defender on the Grizzlies will have his work cut for him today in guarding both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Kyle Anderson will have to use his height to try and stop Carmelo Anthony’s post ups. Aside from the outcome of the Lillard/Morant match up, the next biggest match up in the game is the fight in the paint between Nurkic and Valanciunas. If Valanciunas can outplay Nurkic and Whiteside it would be huge for the Grizzlies.

Dillion Brooks and Grayson Allen will look to hit shots from the outside for the Grizzlies. Brooks shoots the 3 at 35% and Allen hits better than 40% of his threes. Ja Morant is averaging almost 18 points per game, but he’s going to have be something special in order for his young team to overcome the experience of the Blazers. He’s going to have be great on defense in covering Damian Lillard and Morant’s going to have to do a great job distributing the ball as well. Kyle Anderson will also have the unenviable task of defending Carmelo Anthony. If the Grizzlies can hold their own in a few of these match up, they may have a chance.

Realistically, the Portland Trailblazers are favored to win this game but they have to play the game and win, not just be favored. If the Grizzlies win this game, then they will have to beat the Blazers again tomorrow to advance. Let’s see what happens!

Enjoy the game!