Next Four at the Forum

Posted on February 28, 2014

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By Johnny Dunavant

frontWith all-star weekend and the trade deadline officially behind us, the playoff push intensifies for the bears in blue. After an injury riddled start to the year, the Grizz are finally healthy, and the roster boasts both the talent and experience to make another deep playoff run. The next bundle of home games will be equally competitive and entertaining, so here are a few reasons why you should fill the forum.

Wednesday February 26th: Los Angeles Lakers
It’s not often you get the opportunity to see one of the most storied franchises in professional sports history. Despite the absence of Kobe Bryant, who suffered a knee injury the last time the Lakers came to town, Los Angeles has a combination of talented youth and savvy veterans that can hang with anybody in the league. The return of Pau Gasol is always interesting as it provides one of the most unique dynamics in all of basketball. The sibling matchup featuring two of the game’s most skilled big men in Marc and Pau is worth the price of admission alone. Additionally, every Memphian should seize the opportunity to root against Nick Young, self-proclaimed “Swaggy P”, a notorious Grizzly killer.

Saturday March 1st: Cleveland Cavaliers
This east versus west bout is highlighted by the matchup of two terrific point guards. Third year Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, straight off an MVP performance in the All-Star game, will go head-to-head with Mike Conley, an All-Star snub who is looking to return to full strength after missing a few weeks with an ankle injury. The marquee matchup features two players who lead their respected teams in both points and assists, creating a can’t-miss battle for basketball fans. Cleveland also boasts last summer’s number one draft pick in Anthony Bennett, a prospect that some analysts have rendered the “miniature Zbo”.

Saturday March 8th: Charlotte Bobcats
Despite being historically awful, the Bobcats currently hold the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte is anchored by a pair of highly talented guards in the backcourt, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest and Kemba walker. Both guards won national championships at the collegiate level, and the pair have been highly effective together this season. What should really motivate you to head to Beale Street is the return of Memphis Tiger legend Chris-Douglass Roberts. After bouncing around the league in various stints with New Jersey, Milwaukee and Dallas among others, the lanky wingman has been a productive rotation player for Charlotte as of recent. Feel free to show your appreciation for the former first team all-American, as his stellar performances during the magical final four run of 2008 continue to define Memphis’ greatest team this side of the century.

Tuesday March 11th: Portland Trailblazers
Another can’t miss matchup of spectacular point guards will ensue when Damien Lillard leads a powerful Trailblazer team into the bluff city. The versatile All-Star has guided Portland to the 5th seed in the playoff race, but Lillard isn’t the only dangerous Trailblazer. LaMarcus Aldridge has propelled himself into the conversation of the league’s best power forwards. The All-Star forward has dominated the paint all season, which will provide an intriguing matchup in the Grizz game, as Memphis relies on its bigs to both anchor the defensive end and to generate offense. In the last contest between these two teams, Aldridge produced game highs in both points, 27, and rebounds, 17. Rounding out the Portland roster is former Memphis standout Will Barton. Although the wiry forward has yet to find consistent minutes for the Trailblazers, don’t be surprised if Barton makes an appearance if Portland’s offense becomes stagnant.

Johnny Dunavant is corps member for Teach for American in Memphis, TN. He also coaches basketball.

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Posted in: Grizzlies, Sports