The Grizzlies were in fine form in their last meeting against the Blazers, winning 130-128 behind an electric performance from last season’s Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. He tallied 33 points and 13 assists, outplaying Damian Lillard in a head-to-head battle between two of the best leaders in the league.
However, the real story was the outstanding play of Jaren Jackson Jr. In only his second game back from a meniscus tear, Triple J went to work and scored 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field. "It's going game-by-game, and I'll progressively get back to full form where I'm playing 28, 30 minutes a game," Jackson said after the win.
This should bode well for the Grizzlies, as they are currently in eight place in the standings. Ironically, if the season ended today they would be facing the No. 7 Trail Blazers, who are currently in the midst of a brutal four-game losing skid. Winning another match against Portland would give the Grizzlies a huge momentum, which could give them an advantage in case they do have to face off against each other for a spot in the playoffs.
The Blazers (32-27) have a lot of work to do to right the ship and get out of the play-in tournament bracket. They’re not far off from the Dallas Mavericks (33-26) and Los Angeles Lakers (35-25) in the standings, so it’s definitely still a possibility.
The Big 3 of Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Enes Kanter all had big games, as they scored 27, 26, and 22 points apiece. However, the defensive issues that have been plaguing the Blazers manifested again on Saturday, as they allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 53 percent from the field. In fact, for the season, opponents have shot their best from the field against Portland at a 55 percent clip.
These two squads will wrap up their season series with a final game in Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday. But for now, this crucial Monday match with playoff implications is in the offing.
Don’t miss this early morning battle between the Grizzlies and the Trail Blazers live on NBA League Pass beginning 4:00 AM.