Even more confusing than this photo of Allen Iverson in a Memphis home jersey (he played zero games for them inside FedEx Forum) is the fact that the Grizzlies are now playoff contenders, gnawing away at Portland’s 3.5 game advantage in the standings. Credit Marc Gasol anchoring the team in the paint, the pudgy offensive prowess of a reformed Zach Randolph, and a motivated Rudy Gay playing in a contract year. No longer are the Grizzles an NBA punchline; the bottom-dwelling team that failed to corral A.I., and shipped away Pau Gasol for a copy of Phil Jackson’s Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior and a gameworn Sasha Vujacic headband.
The Grizzlies are good.
But I don’t have to tell you that. You probably watched—through covered eyes—the horror of Memphis taking a pair of games inside the Rose Garden earlier this year. There is a lot at stake here since Portland hasn’t dropped a season series to Memphis since the Blazers’ 21-win 2005-06 team, and losing this—or any—tiebreaker in a gridlocked Western Conference playoff race is not a good idea. Thankfully the Blazers have won the last seven games in Memphis, while the Grizzlies—mere weeks after winning 11 straight at home—have dropped an uncharacteristic six consecutive games in a row inside the FedEx Forum.
A Portland victory would seriously doom the playoff chances of this streaky Memphis team. But a loss would hand over a potential tiebreaker to a franchise eyeing that ever-elusive eighth playoff seed. Let’s see if this Memphis cold streak lasts one more night…
Las Vegas Line: Memphis -1