Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers wrap up the 2010-11 (regular) home season and host the Memphis Grizzlies. For the sake of nostalgia, let's look back at this season's opening game. My, we were all so much younger (and skinnier) back then. Brandon Roy in the starting lineup? Optimism about the health of Greg Oden? Ha, those truly were the days.
As previously mentioned here, the Blazers can gift wrap the Western Conference sixth seed with a victory. If they lose to Memphis, well then things will get more complicated. For the sake of my sanity, they should just win this game tonight.
Live blog, this way...
Much like Portland, the Grizzlies are jockeying for postseason position. They'll likely end up playing either the Mavericks or the Lakers, which is a similar position to where the Blazers are currently sitting. Truth be told, there isn't much difference between the sixth and seventh seeds.
There is a decent chance Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, Wesley Matthews and Tony Allen might all be on the court at the same. Prepare to overdose on hustle. Then again Zach Randolph is playing, so that will level things out a bit. Also, since Z-Bo is in the house people here will still mercilessly boo him. Because we're all a bunch of babies that can't let the past be.
Marcus Camby is all healed from his neck injury (total headbanger) and will be back in the starting lineup. Coach McMillan won't monitor his minutes.
Scratch that, Allen is not playing for Memphis. Rumors are swirling that Randolph will sit as well. Memphis might be tanking on purpose, which doesn't make sense considering they can still fall to the eighth seed.
Aldridge addresses the fans before the game and gets a standing ovation. He seems surprised.
10:19 - Watching a Memphis team without Z-Bo, Rudy Gay, or Tony Allen is kind of depressing. 4-4 tie.
8:56 - Two failed alley-oop passes so far for Porland. Memphis isn't making it that easy. 6-4 Grizzlies.
7:30 - I haven't seen this much tanking since Tiananmen Square. Sadly it's the Blazers doing the tanking. OJ Mayo has as many points as the entire Blazers starting five. 11-5 Grizzlies.
6:23 - Miller tips a steal to Wallace who hits Aldridge on the breakaway dunk. Blazers crawl back into the game. Take that, Memphis scrubs. 11-10 Grizzlies.
3:31 - Really, how can you expect the Blazers to defend against such offensive juggernauts like Sam Young and Darrel Arthur? 20-17 Grizzles.
2:21 - Roy checks into the game. That'll solve Portland's defensive woes. 22-19 Grizzlies.
1:41 - Roy misses the fast break pass due the fact that he isn't, well, fast. 22-20 Grizzles.
0:04 - After missing one layup at the rim, Patty Mills redeems himself with the final basket of the quarter. Hey, Blazers lead. Take that, Ish Smith. 27-25 Blazers.
11:10 - Iran's finest player Harnad Haddadi checks into the game. Memphis really is bringing out the stars tonight. This is like the Branson, Missouri version of the Grizzlies. 27-27 tie.
8:29 - After clanking his last 11 attempts, Rudy's three game is on tonight. He's made both attempts so far. So, there's that. 33-33 tie.
7:27 - Greivis Vasquez is now on the court for Memphis. He's easily the best NBA player named Greivis playing tonight. 33-33 tie (still).
5:46 - Miller posts up, waits for the entry pass, draws a double team, and then guns the ball to Aldridge for an easy dunk. And that's why the Blazers didn't trade him for Mike Conley. 37-33 Blazers.
3:40 - Miller nearly converts an alley-oop. If he made that, game over. The league would contract Memphis, or maybe they'd just vanish into a pile of ash, like a vampire with a stake to the heart. 43-39 Blazers.
1:16 - Marc Gasol jumper. That's more rare than a Dre dunk. He might as well of hit that shot while trotting around on a unicorn. 43-43 tie.
0:50 - Conley hits a running layup and Memphis takes the lead. This is an elaborate rope-a-dope trick, right? 45-43 Grizzles.
0:00 - Miller hits a pair of free-throws and we're tied at the half. Yay. I guess. 45-45 tie.
9:38 - Young passes on a fastbreak and hurls a 14-foot jumper. Clanky clank clank. Still, Memphis takes the lead. Of course they do. 51-47 Grizzzzzzzzz.
7:37 - Matthews hits a three and now the Blazers are ahead in a game they should have been winning since the opening tip. 54-53 Blazers.
5:56 - Mayo catches a rebound in full sprint and is still chased down and blocked by Batum at the rim. Defensive play of the night for the French kid. 54-53 Blazers.
5:10 - Camby swats Gasol's jumper. Nice effort, but Batum's block was better. 56-54 Blazers.
3:25 - Dunkapalooza. Camby on the winning end of an alley-oop and then Batum follows with a breakaway slam. 62-59 Blazers.
2:10 - Let's ignore the blatant double-dribble and credit Wallace for a ridiculous hustle play where he scoops a rebound, bounces off a few defenders, and takes the ball in for a layup. 66-59 Blazers.
1:10 - Wallace again with a streaking layup (while getting fouled). No double-dribble that time. 71-62 Blazers.
0:00 - Blazers end the quarter on high note and now have an eight point lead against the dregs of the Memphis lineup. Catch the fever of playoff basketball! 74-66 Blazers.
9:02 - Gasol and Haddadi on the court at the same time. Not sure why that is notable. It just looks weird. 80-73 Blazers.
8:27 - Three points for Rudy, then one play later, he swoops in for the steal. Hopefully the Blazers will face the Memphis B-team in the playoffs. 83-73 Blazers.
5:28 - Shane Battier for three. Shane Battier is on Memphis? 88-80 Blazers.
3:54 - Memphis won't die. Much like the career of Leon Powe, the only man to have more knee surgeries than Oden and Roy combined. 93-85 Blazers.
2:39 - Wallace with a breakaway dunk that should nail the coffin closed on Memphis. Thank god. In other news I just re-read a few previous posts. Looks like Memphis isn't the only one resting the starters tonight. . 97-85 Blazers.
0:49 - Wallace chalupas the crowd. Ewwww. 100-89 Blazers.
0:12 - Earl Barron for two! Highlight of the night, right there. 102-89 Blazers.
0:00 - And that will do it. Your final score, Portland 102, Memphis 89. The Blazers clinch the sixth seed and will play either the Lakers (eh), Thunder (no!), or Mavericks (yes, please) in the first round. We'll know tomorrow night. See you here this weekend for the playoffs.