The Portland Trail Blazers will return from having four days off to host Memphis Wednesday night at the Moda Center.
That time away gave Damian Lillard and Josh Hart extra recovery time while not missing games. Lillard, who suffered a calf strain during Wednesday’s loss to Miami, however, won’t return against the Grizzlies (4-3).
On the other hand, Hart, who entered the NBA’s concussion protocols after Friday’s win over Houston, has not been ruled out for Wednesday’s game.
Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said he would once again start rookie Shaedon Sharpe in place of Lillard. Billups said he hadn’t decided whom would start in place of Hart should he not be ready to go. The two logical choices would be Justise Winslow or Nassir Little.
As for the time off, Billups said rest did the team well.
“It was awesome to have a break in the action,” Billups told reporters following Tuesday’s practice. “Gave us a chance to get some rest and also work on some things. So, we had our days when we were able to take off and spend with the family and just kind of recharge that way. And then we had a couple of pretty good practices where we can improve in some areas.”
One area that had better be tight is on how to deal handle Memphis guard Ja Morant. He is off to the best start of his career, averaging a career-best 33.3 points with 6.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds. Morant is shooting career-highs in field goal percentage (55%) and three-point shooting (56%).
Should Hart not play, guarding Morant will fall mostly on Anfernee Simons. The last time these two squared off last Feb. 16 at Memphis. Morant scored what was then a career-high 44 points with 11 assists. But the Blazers won 123-119 with Simons going for 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting.
The Blazers might need a similar performance from Simons to win on Wednesday with Lillard sidelined as he was last February.
The Grizzlies rank fifth in offensive rating (115.5) and fourth in defensive rating (109.9). Still, despite those lofty ratings the Grizzlies are just 1-3 against teams with a .500 record or better (Dallas, New York Knicks and Utah, twice). The four teams they’ve defeated (Houston, Brooklyn and Sacramento) have a combined record of 5-17.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS VS. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
What: Trail Blazers (5-1) vs. Grizzlies (4-3), 7 p.m., Wednesday.
Where: Moda Center.
Radio: Rip City Radio (KPOJ 620 AM).
TV channel: Root Sports Plus (in Portland: Comcast 1253, DirecTV 687-1).
Watch the game live online: You can watch this game live for FREE with fuboTV (free trial). You can also get this game on DirecTV Stream’s “CHOICE” package (promotional offers), if you are out of fuboTV trials, or simply prefer that platform and their pricing plans. If you already have a cable or satellite provider that carries Root Sports and want to watch online, you can watch this game live on Root Sports Live.
ODDS (Oregon Lottery/DraftKings)
Moneyline: POR +140 | MEM -165
Spread: POR +3.5 | Over/Under: NA
Blazers: F Josh Hart (concussion protocols) is questionable. G Damian Lillard (right calf strain), G Gary Payton II (core muscle surgery recovery), C Olivier Sarr (right wrist sprain) and G/F Trendon Watford (right hip flexor strain) are out.
Grizzlies: C Steven Adams (jaw soreness), G Desmond Bane (ankle), and F Jake LaRavia (illness) are questionable. F Jaren Jackson Jr. (foot), F Danny Green (ankle surgery recovery) and G Ziaire Williams (knee) and are out.
The Blazers start a six-game road trip with back-to-back games at Phoenix on Friday and Saturday.
— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook). Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts
— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook).
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