The Memphis Grizzlies will have the opportunity to sweep the Portland Trail Blazers, but winning Game 4 will be far from easy as they will have to do so without their starting point guard.
Mike Conley suffered a facial injury in Game 3 and left after being elbowed in the eye by Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum.
This ruled Conley out for Game 4, and there is no timetable for his return. Conley is expected to undergo facial surgery, but the Grizzlies are still holding out hope that he can come back later on, assuming the Grizzlies close out the series.
The Grizzlies will need all the firepower they can get on offense, especially if they advance since their next opponent would be the Golden State Warriors.
They will also need reserve point guard Beno Udrih to get healthy quickly after he missed Game 3 with a sprained ankle. Udrih had previously scored 20 points in Game 2.
The Grizzlies may be forced to turn to Nick Calathes as their starting point guard for Game 4, but he was able to score 13 points off the bench in Game 3.
Fortunately, the Grizzlies still have both of their big men in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Gasol stepped up big at the free-throw line as he shot 13-for-14 from the charity stripe.
Gasol was forced to shoot from there often at the end of the game, as the Blazers committed seven intentional fouls in the final minute of the game.
He led the Grizzlies with 25 points while shooting guard Courtney Lee added 20 points, and the bench was prominent as well as they contributed 32 points as a whole.
The Grizzlies will need to get back on track with their rebounding though. While Gasol grabbed seven, Randolph only had four.
Grabbing rebounds and giving the offense second-chance point opportunities will be crucial in a game without Conley, who is their driving force.
Meanwhile, the Blazers have one more opportunity to get back in the series. Their offense put on what was easily its best performance of the series.
Small forward Nicolas Batum was an ace behind the three-point line as he shot 6-for-12 from downtown while leading the Blazers with 27 points.
Point guard Damian Lillard put his abysmal performances in his first two games behind him and scored 22 points while making approximately 53 percent of his shots.
Lillard had only made 27 percent of his shots before this game. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge struggled as he shot 6-for-18, and his dreadful first half made it difficult for the Blazers to stay in it.
Nonetheless, he scored 21 points while adding seven rebounds. McCollum proved that he is healthy again by scoring 26 points, but Arron Afflalo was rusty in his return as he only scored five points in his start.
The Blazers offense seemed to click more with Afflalo back though, and McCollum proved he can be a reliable contributor again.
Although it’s highly unlikely the Blazers will make an epic series comeback, expect them to stay alive in the series with a home win.
Prediction: Blazers 102, Grizzlies 97