Memphis at San Antonio, 8:05 p.m. ET – TNT
Nov 21, 2015 – Memphis 82 at San Antonio 92 (Spurs -8, Under 190)
Dec 3, 2015 – San Antonio 103 at Memphis 83 (Spurs -3, Over 183)
Mar 25, 2016 – Memphis 104 at San Antonio 110 (Grizzlies +13, Over 190.5)
Mar 28, 2016 – San Antonio 101 at Memphis 87 (Spurs -5.5, Under 193)
It’s a credit to everyone affiliated with the Grizzlies organization that the team plays on without Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, both of whom have been lost for the season. Memphis also sent Courtney Lee to Charlotte because it figured its season would end after 82 and couldn’t pass up on a good deal, so there’s an element of surprise to its inclusion in this postseason as the team makes its sixth consecutive playoff appearance. It’s Zach Randolph’s team, but the supporting cast consists of Tony Allen, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Lance Stephenson, Chris Andersen, JaMychal Green and Jordan Farmar. All are basically cast-offs from the land of misfit toys, haunted their entire careers by the things they can’t do well. Still, all have been willing defenders and have understood they don’t’ have the luxury to cut corners, so they’ve defeated the Clippers and taken the Warriors to OT on nights where they weren’t mentally prepared to play.
That isn’t likely to be the case against San Antonio, who has treated the regular season like a layup line and is fresh for this series with all hands on deck. LaMarcus Aldridge has been dealing with a finger injury suffered against Golden State and is playing with his pinky taped to another finger, hoping time will ultimately increase his range of motion. He’ll play in the series. The Grizzlies have lost 10 of 11 games outright, beating only the Bulls at home in a stretch which began with a setback at the Lakers.
The Spurs have dropped three of five, losing twice to Golden State and once in Denver with most regulars resting. Aldridge participated in three games against the Griz, averaging 27 points and 9.7 boards while shooting 65 percent from the field. Kawhi Leonard has only played against Memphis twice this season, averaging 23 points and 7.5 rebounds. The ‘under’ has prevailed in six of the last nine San Antonio games. Randolph has only been out there against the Spurs once all season, scoring nine points and grabbing six boards. He averaged 17.3 points per game in April since becoming the focal point of the offense. San Antonio is 37-0 straight up as a double-digit favorite, but is just 20-17 against the spread in that situation. Memphis is just 1-7 SU as a double-digit dog, but is 5-3 against the number.
Portland at L.A. Clippers, 10:35 p.m. ET – TNT
Nov 20, 2015 – L.A. Clippers 91 at Portland 102 (Blazers +4.5, Under 210)
Nov 30, 2015 – Portland 87 at L.A. Clippers 102 (Clippers -7, Under 206)
Jan 6, 2016 – L.A. Clippers 109 at Portland 98 (Clippers -3.5, Over 205.5)
Mar 24, 2016 – Portland 94 at L.A. Clippers 96 (Blazers +5.5, Under 216)
Portland’s Terry Stotts has a real shot at Coach of the Year given the unexpected success his team has experienced this season. After losing Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wes Matthews and Robin Lopez to other teams, the Trail Blazers paid to keep Damian Lillard happy long-term and decided to build around him with other young talent. The franchise couldn’t have envisioned the growth Most Improved front-runner CJ McCollum would make, not to mention the contributions wings like Al-Farouq Aminu and Mo Harkless would make given the opportunity. The Blazers nearly doubled their expected season win total in finishing fifth in the Western Conference, beating out a number of teams that came into the season as top contenders for the NBA title.
Despite all this, the Trail Blazers are undoubtedly the underdog in this series, opening on the road at Staples Center against a Clippers squad that finished with the sixth-best record in the league despite missing Blake Griffin for 47 games with multiple injuries, most recently a broken hand suffered while punching a friend and team employee back in January. Griffin has averaged 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in splitting a pair of games against Portland back in November, but hasn’t been a part of the last two meetings, both Clippers wins.
Since returning on April 3, Griffin has gotten into five contests, averaging just 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from the field. He’s notched one double-double, playing more than 25 minutes only once. Although Doc Rivers is expected to give him a longer leash to help him get his rhythm this postseason, the expectation is that he still won’t be himself early in this series.
L.A. point guard Chris Paul outplayed Lillard in the most recent meeting between these teams back on March 24, scoring 25 points and dishing out seven assists while holding the Blazers star to just 18 points on 4-for-16 shooting. Lillard really struggled against L.A. this season, averaging 18.0 points, more than seven below his season average, while shooting just 32 percent, his worst clip against any team this season besides Philadelphia. Jamal Crawford added 25 points off the bench in the most recent outing against Portland and has scored 30 or more points in two of the last five contests, closing his Sixth Man of the Year campaign in style. DeAndre Jordan played in all four games against the Blazers, averaging 14.0 points, 16.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting over 65 percent from the field. If he can keep Mason Plumlee from being a factor in the paint, Portland will be too one-dimensional and perimeter-oriented to pull the upset in the series. Although the Trail Blazers have won seven of the last nine games, they’re just 3-6 ATS in those contests. L.A. has won 10 of 12 outright, going 8-4 against the number in that span. The ‘under’ was prevailed in nine of the last 13 Clippers games.