The Memphis Grizzlies, who are holding onto eighth place in the Western Conference, will begin their NBA restart on July 31 when they take on Portland. The Trail Blazers are currently tied for ninth place and still have a legitimate shot of making the postseason.
The two teams will be fighting for their playoff lives as they meet in the first of eight “seeding” games for each team. Memphis currently has a 3.5-game lead on Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento. The Grizzlies beat Portland 111-104 in the only meeting between the two teams this season.
The dynamic Portland backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined to shoot 16-of-44 in that defeat to the Grizzlies. Lillard is one of the NBA’s top scorers and averages 28.9 points per game. McCollum averages 22.5.
The Grizzlies counter with an attack led by the 2020 Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant. The No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, Morant averages 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per game for Memphis. He leads a young Grizzlies lineup into the restart.
Western Conference Playoff Implications
Memphis is in the driver’s seat as far as the playoffs go. The Grizzlies hold onto that No. 8 seed and have the 3.5-game lead over Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento. The problem for the Grizzlies is that if a team finishes with four games of them there will be a play-in tournament to determine which team gets the No. 8 seed.
Portland, which currently holds the tiebreaker over New Orleans and Sacramento, is a big favorite to earn a ninth-place and force a play-in. Not only do the Trail Blazers have Lillard and McCollum in the backcourt, but they will get Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic back from injury.
Nurkic suffered a devastating leg injury last year and was supposed to miss the entire 2019-20 season. Collins was hurt during the very first weeks of the new season and hasn’t played since. Having both players back will make a dramatic impact on both Portland’s offense and defense. It also cushions the blow of Trevor Ariza electing not to play the remainder of the season.
For Memphis, the Grizzlies should be able to hold onto eighth place. They do finish the seeding games with a tough three-game stretch of Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee, the top three teams in the East. What will help the Grizzlies is the simple structure of the play-in tournament?
In the event the ninth-place team does finish within four games of Memphis at No. 8, the two teams will play a two-game tournament. Memphis only has to win one game to capture the No. 8 seed. The ninth-place team would have to beat the Grizzlies twice.
NBA schedule 2020: Grizzlies and Trail Blazers Dates, times, matchups in Orlando
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, August 2 (4 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, August 3 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Utah Jazz on Wednesday, August 5 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, August 7 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Sunday, August 9 (2 p.m.)
vs. Boston Celtics on Tuesday, August 11 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)
Portland Trail Blazers
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, July 31 (4:00 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
vs. Boston Celtics on Sunday, August 2 (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
vs. Houston Rockets on Tuesday, August 4 (9:00 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Thursday, August 6 (8:00 p.m. ET)
vs. LA Clippers on Saturday, August 8 (1:00 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, August 9 (6:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, August 11 (5:00 p.m. ET)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, August 13 (TBD, TBD)
How To Watch
When: Friday, July 31 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena, Reunion, Florida
TV: NBA TV, NSNW
Live streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
The Memphis (-143) are a favorite against the Portland (+400), according to the latest NBA odds.