The odds are heavily against the Memphis Grizzlies as they prepare to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday in the play-in series. Photo by @memgrizz (Twitter).
- The Play-In Series in the Western Conference is set, with the Grizzlies taking on the Blazers
- The odds are heavily against Memphis to win on Saturday
- Can Portland advance to a first-round matchup with the Lakers or can the Grizz pull off the upset? Get the props, odds, and preview below
After a very exciting end to the NBA Bubble in Orlando — where four teams in the Western Conference battled it out for the eighth and nine seed, we now look ahead to the play-in series this weekend.
After a lackluster performance in the seeding games, Memphis lost the eighth spot but were still able to lock down ninth after a win against the Bucks. Taylor Jenkins’ team will face the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers, who won a nail-biter against Brooklyn on Thursday, thanks to another brilliant performance from Damian Lillard. The Blazers went 6-2 in the bubble, helping them solidify eighth place in the West.
2020 Western Conference Play-in Series Odds
|Will Memphis Win Two Play-In Games Against Portland?||Odds|
|Will The 9th Place Team Win a Play-In Tournament Game?||Odds|
Odds taken August 14th
These two are familiar with each other, having met in the first game of the restart. Portland won a hard-fought contest 140-135. But before the season was postponed, Memphis did beat the Trail Blazers in early February, 111-104. Heading into Saturday’s contest though, the odds are heavily favoring Portland to advance.
Portland Coming in Hot
Led by Dame, the Blazers were one of the most impressive teams in the bubble over the last two weeks. Memphis was comfortably in eighth before action resumed, but Portland couldn’t stop winning while the Grizzlies struggled to find results.
The Trail Blazers’ only two losses in Orlando came against two very good teams in Boston and the Clippers and both were very close games until the buzzer. Lillard has been absolutely brilliant since the resumption, averaging 37.6 points through eight contests, including a 61 and 51-point effort. The odds are currently favoring Lillard to drop 40 or more once again this weekend.
Carmelo Anthony and CJ McCollum have also been clutch for the Blazers, putting forward solid performances on a nightly basis. With Jusuf Nurkic healthy now as well, this team is a force to be reckoned with all over the floor. Realistically, Portland is the best opposition for the Lakers in the first round if we want to see an entertaining series. Considering the type of basketball they’re playing right now, the Blazers seriously have a shot at giving LeBron and AD a run for their money.
Since they’re the eight seed, Terry Stotts’ squad needs just one win on Saturday against Memphis in order to advance.
Memphis Faces a Tough Test
The Grizzlies were a pleasant surprise this season, led by their young, dynamic duo in Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. However, the latter suffered a serious knee injury in Orlando and won’t return until next season. This was a huge blow for Memphis, considering Jackson Jr. was their second-highest scorer this year and a huge presence in the paint.
When he went on the shelf, no one gave the Grizz much hope. They went just 2-6 in the bubble and barely clinched the nine seed. On a positive note, a lot of their losses were close contests. Morant has been productive, but the absence of their star big man has been felt. Their defense has been lacking, giving up 117.2 points per game.
An uphill battle is definitely ahead for Memphis. Portland has been arguably the best team in Orlando and with Lillard on fire, they will need to contain him if they want any chance of winning on Saturday. Whether it’s Morant or Dillon Brooks guarding Dame, they will need to limit his looks from three-point range because he’s been absolutely lethal from downtown.
In order to advance to a matchup with the Lakeshow in the opening round of the playoffs, the Grizzlies will need to beat the Trail Blazers in back-to-back games this weekend.
Considering how Portland has been playing lately, it’s hard to bet against them. Just one victory is needed on Saturday to lock down eighth for the postseason. Memphis has looked depleted with the exception of their last game against Milwaukee, but the Bucks were also missing Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Blazers have three players in particular who are seasoned veterans when it comes to crunch time with Lillard, McCollum, and Anthony. They’ve all been in this type of position and know exactly what it takes to succeed on the big stage. The Grizzlies have a very bright future there is no doubt about it, but I do believe Portland will win convincingly on Saturday and advance, led by Dame, who will continue to pour in the points.
Pick: Memphis to win two play-in games – NO (-900)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.