The Memphis Grizzlies have the Portland Trail Blazers number, beating them 115-109 to take a 3-0 lead in the playoff series and make it seven wins in seven games including the regular season despite Mike Conley leaving with a face injury in the third quarter.
Not having Beno Udrih due to a sprained ankle from game 2, the Grizzlies turned to Greek international Nick Calathes to run the point. Calathes scored 13 points and didn’t turn over the ball in 27 minutes, showing that coming off the bench completely cold and without actual preparation isn’t a problem for him, maybe due to his international experience.
The Blazers seem to have just one way of handling their business, which is trying to win games by jump shooting and then doing it some more. They were outscored 30-14 in the paint during the first half and ended up scoring just 30 points in the paint. LaMarcus Aldridge and the others keep making it easy for the Grizzlies to defend them, leading to a lot of transition offense for the Grizzlies, scoring 62 points in the first half, a franchise record in the postseason.
While Mike Conley was playing, Memphis had firm control of the game. Afterwards, a series of 3-pointers from Arron Afflalo and Nicolas Batum narrowed things down to only three points, but almost every miss the Blazers had was answered with a quick attack that exposed the poor transition defense from Portland, even when playing at home.
Marc Gasol wasn’t shooting well (6-of-17) but made plenty of trips to the line, scoring overall 25 points as the Grizzlies pushed the ball inside on almost every opportunity. Zach Randolph scored 16 points and Courtney Lee ended up scoring 20. Tony Allen started and although he usually isn’t a big part of this offense, made some big baskets to recreate separation in the final minutes and seal the win.
Nicolas Batum led the Blazers with 27 points, followed by C.J. McCollum scoring 26, Damian Lillard with 22 points and LaMarcus Aldridge finishing with 21. Aldridge had another rough game, shooting just 1-of-10 from the field in the first half and finishing it with 6-of-18. The Grizzlies know he isn’t moving the ball, and have someone (and sometimes more than one) at almost every shot opportunity Aldridge is trying to create for himself.
Not having Conley and Udrih from the start of game 4 might be a problem for the Grizzlies, but it seemed they’re at a point of feeling so confident and comfortable against the Blazers, regardless of it being a home or away game, that they’re quite sure they’ll handle any absence and keep on winning against a team that has the wrong kind of offense and personnel for this specific series.