With both the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers dealing with banged up starters or missing altogether, it’s important to have a bench player who can be a game changer. Beno Udrih played that part in a 100-86 win for the Grizzlies in game 1, taking a 1-0 series lead.
Udrih, who has been around quite a lot of teams over the years, scored 20 points off the bench, making Mike Conley’s injury a little bit less of a headache for his head coach, as the Grizzlies didn’t have to worry about things falling apart once their bench got in the game. Conley played just 24 minutes thanks to that, which might help give him some valuable rest as we venture towards the rest of the series.
Udrih made his first six shots of the first quarter and allowed Conley to sit on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, as the Blazers were able to make the final score look a bit more respectable, falling behind by 28 points in the first quarter, which seemed to fit the script from what we saw between the teams in the regular season, with the Grizzlies sweeping the four-game series?
Is it going to be the same in the playoffs? Yes, if the Blazers keep shooting like they did and don’t try anything creative offensively. LaMarcus Aldridge did score 32 points but needed 34 shots to get there (13-of-34). Damian Lillard was even worse with 5-of-21 from the field to score 14 points. The Grizzlies did a fantastic job of forcing the Blazers to jump shoot their way through the game, limiting them to just 33.7% from the field. Without anyone heating up from the outside, and it’s more difficult with no Matthews to use, the Blazers didn’t stand a chance.
Marc Gasol scored 15 points to go with 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks. The hurting Conley and Zach Randolph finished with 16 each and Jeff Green struggled with his shooting, but still scored 11 points to provide the kind of offense that Memphis expected when they traded for him. The Grizzlies didn’t shoot all that well either (44.3% from the field) but it wa the lesser of two evils in a not-too-fun to watch basketball game.
The Blazers need to change their whole approach to a basketball game in order to make it out of this series with a smile on their faces. Less random jump shooting, more ball movement, and more attempts to put on creative lineups that force Gasol away from the basket. The Grizzlies aren’t pretty to look at, but they do their thing so effectively, it’s silly to try the same old thing knowing it hasn’t worked in the past against them.