Two talented teams share the same goal– advance to the next round. Their destiny will be decided by their ability to excel at both ends of the floor, anything less could spell disaster, subsequently leading to an early ticket home. The Portland Trail Blazers have fought through injuries and adversity throughout the regular season only to arrive back to a familiar place — the postseason.
The Memphis Grizzlies began the first part of the 2014-15 NBA season as one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference, however, they’re widely recognized during the postseason where they consistently out-perform and out-hustle teams on a regular basis.
Which team will grind, scratch, and claw their way to the next round? Team S.U. drops the final installment of the 2015 Western Conference NBA playoffs predictions.
2015 NBA Playoffs: Blazers vs Grizzlies- Round 1 Series Predictions
Keith Rivas (Editor): Damian Lillard, much like Kawhi Leonard, has not gotten his respects for the hard work and change he has brought to the Portland locker room. On the floor, Lillard’s contributions are irreplaceable and are simply not something Mike Conley can replicate — as great as he is.
The LaMarcus Aldridge factor will also determine a lot not just about this series but the Blazers entire playoff perspective moving forward. Lillard may play the role of Batman, but every Batman needs a Robin.
The Blazers will take this one in six hard fought, tightly contested games.
Prediction: Blazers (4-2)
Steve Turner (NBA Writer): The Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers series is going to have fans at the edge of their seeds. Both of these teams have been consistently amazing all season. With All-Star Marc Gasol leading the way for the Grizzlies, Memphis is looking to make another great run in the playoffs. The one thing that is hurting this Memphis team is injuries. Gasol left the Pacers game with a bothered ankle which didn’t seem to bother him too much though because he dropped a career-high 33 points on the Blazers in their last game of the season.
The Grizzlies need Gasol to stay on a roll and stay healthy. Mike Conley has missed the past four games, hopefully he can come back for the playoffs without that right ankle injury not bothering him. But if Conley isn’t playing, Memphis could be in big trouble.
Portland’s point guard Damian Lillard will not have an elite defender on him and he will make this Memphis team pay. LaMarcus Aldridge has also been having a phenomenal season. The matchup of Aldridge and Zach Randolph is going to be crucial. Randolph has made it a habit of turning it on during the postseason. He is a double-double animal and can punish you in the post. Aldridge is a great defender though and his offensive moves can easily overwhelm his defender.
Prediction: This series is going to go down to the wire. The Grizzlies have been my sleeper team all season, and I’m taking them in 7!
Sauping R. Arguello (NBA Contributor): The Portland Trail Blazers are the fourth seed but the fifth seeded Memphis Grizzlies will have home court advantage as they have the better record. Portland enters this series as wounded warriors but that won’t stop the dynamic duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard from making it competitive. Memphis has struggled towards the final stretch but I feel they will pick up the pace during the playoffs.
The big man tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will take turns trying to slow down Aldridge. Mike Conley will try to prove the doubters wrong, going up against another overlooked point guard in Lillard. There are some great matchups in this series but I feel the Grizzlies have a deeper, more defensive minded group than Portland. Not having Wesley Matthews will hurt the Blazers.
Prediction: I’m taking Memphis in 6 (4-2).
Jr. Williams (NBA Editor): Is it me or is the Western Conference the most exciting part of the NBA postseason? Over the past few seasons the west has been stacked with talented teams from the No.1 – No.8 seed. The Memphis Grizzlies vs Portland Trail Blazers series could be mistaken for a semi-final matchup due to the plethora of talent on both rosters.
If you think either team is the clear favorite going into this series think again. Both teams equally have a shot at coming out of this on top, but in the end there will be only one. I believe that team will be the Memphis Grizzlies, with home court being the deciding factor.
The two-headed monster of Zach Randolph and Mark Gasol will clog the middle, having their way both offensively and defensively as both players can score inside and out. And rebounding won’t be a problem as both players combined average roughly 18 rebounds per game.
From the Trail Blazers perspective, LaMarcus Aldridge should give the Grizzlies the most headache offensively, however, I don’t think he and his team can match the defensive aggressiveness of the Grizzlies.
If the Trail Blazers fail to step up defensively, this series could be over faster than expected.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 6 (4-2)