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SHORTHANDED PORTLAND MUST WIN 4 OF 6 TO SURVIVE PLAYOFF READY MEMPHIS

You don't ever want to put too much weight on a series opener in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. It's not uncommon for the opener to give a false read, particularly when a good team posts an outlier negative. But, the shorthanded Portland Trailblazers sure LOOKED like a team that was going to be outmatched by the "built for the playoffs" Memphis Grizzlies in last Sunday's blowout loss.

Portland is dealing with multiple injuries. Which...

*Reduces their weaponry
*Reduces their depth
*Reduces their ability to play aggressive defense
*Discourages them from playing at their preferred faster pace.

All of that lines up perfectly for their opponent! Memphis is a halfcourt, defensive-minded team that's built for the playoffs. Now, the Memphis defense has fewer weapons to worry about, and doesn't have to sweat foul trouble as much because they have more depth. Games will likely be played at a slow pace, which the Grizzlies love. How can Portland win four of the next six games in that environment?! 

It's going to be tough. Let's see what JIM HURLEY's key indicator stats have to say about the matchup before reviewing the Game One boxscore...

Offensive Efficiency
Portland: 105.5 per 100 possessions (ranked #8 in the NBA)
Memphis: 103.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #13 in the NBA)

Portland would have the superior offense at full strength. But, the current rotation would probably grade out around league average or worse. That nudges the edge to Memphis...who's better at efficiency than realized. Slow-paced teams usually are!

Defensive Efficiency
Portland: 101.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #10 in the NBA)
Memphis: 99.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #4 in the NBA)

Memphis has a top five defense, and you regulars know how much we value defense in the postseason. Portland was better than people realized during the regular season with a top 10 defense. But, again, injuries will inhibit what they're capable of doing on this side of the floor. Memphis is always a serious playoff threat because of their defense. This team has improved on offense, and has a chance to at least scare Golden State in the next round as a result (assuming they don't get overconfident vs. the Blazers).

Pace Ranking
Portland: #12
Memphis: #26

Portland isn't exactly a racehorse team. But, they were slightly faster than average during the season. That makes them seem like racehorses against slow Memphis...the second slowest team in the brackets behind New Orleans. Playoff basketball generally slows down...which plays right into the strength of Memphis and out of the comfort zone for the Blazers.

Against the Spread
Portland: 40-41-1
Memphis: 40-40-2

Nothing worth worrying about in terms of the market. Both teams were near 50/50, which makes them money losers against the 10% vigorish Las Vegas charges on lost bets.

GAME ONE STATS
Memphis 100, Portland 86
Shooting Pct: Portland 34%, Memphis 44%
Three-Pointers: Portland 8/26, Memphis 3/9
Free Throws: Portland 14/19, Memphis 19/26
Rebounds: Portland 56, Memphis 48
Turnovers: Portland 13, Memphis 8
Vegas Line: Memphis by 5, total of 189

You can see that Portland really floundered in the halfcourt. If not for rebounding this would have been an even bigger loss. See how Memphis absolutely owned the inside game. Scoring on one and two-point baskets went their way by a 91-62 differential. How can Portland compete if they're not forcing turnovers and getting bullied inside the arc. They were already +15 on three-point scoring and still weren't in the game!

Now...it's not like the series is over already. If Memphis gets overconfident, the Blazers can definitely steal Game Two. Pencil in something in the low 40's in shooting percentage instead of 34%, and an angry dog could still have its bite. But, in terms of the best-of-seven, we're looking at a series that will be played in the comfort zone of the favorite...a favorite who's much less likely to wear down from fatigue over the long haul.

Wednesday's Vegas Line: Memphis by 6.5, total of 189.5

The market isn't giving Portland much respect in the zig-zag bounce back spot. That tells you something right there. Of course, they also didn't give New Orleans much respect...and the Pelicans played great at Golden State after a road loss to get the money despite a late-game fade. Portland can still cover some spreads even if they're not destined to advance.

JIM HURLEY has big plans for the Wednesday night playoff tripleheader. You can purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card (the very best from this game, Brooklyn at Atlanta, San Antonio at the LA Clippers...plus a full slate of Major League Baseball). If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours Wednesday. We have great rates...and you know JIM HURLEY has options for horse racing's Triple Crown too!

Our daily NBA Playoff previews continue tomorrow. Here's what's on tap for the next seven days...

Thursday: Golden State at New Orleans Game Three Preview
Friday: Toronto at Washington (series discussion and a review of Games One and Two)
Saturday: Atlanta at Brooklyn (series discussion and a review of Games One and Two)
Sunday: Cleveland at Boston Game Four Preview
Monday: Either Game Four of Memphis/Portland or Game Five of Milwaukee/Chicago
Tuesday: Probably Game Five of the San Antonio/LA Clippers series
Wednesday: Probably Game Five of the Washington/Toronto series

We'll let the schedule dictate coverage in the tail end of the opening round. We'll preview the games everyone is talking about! Too early to tell if we'll have a lot of late-round thrills in these early stages of the 2015 event. It's always a thrill to GET THE MONEY...which is why JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK is an industry leader!

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Nov

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