The 16-16 Memphis Grizzlies visit the 19-13 Los Angeles Lakers for a Western Conference matchup between two teams with contrasting styles today (9:30 p.m. ET Sunday).
The Grizzlies found a lot of success with their hard-nosed, slow-paced brand of basketball to start the season. They began with a 12-5 record and were the West’s No. 1 seed for a short time. Since then, though, they’ve gone 4-11 and have had a tough time scoring consistently.
The Lakers are a fast-paced team that uses its speed to score a lot in transition. They don’t have a lot of quality big men, but they do have quality perimeter players, led by four-time MVP LeBron James.
We will first break down this game in the form of three questions. Finally, we’ll give betting recommendations on the spread and total for the matchup with our Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Lakers predictions.
Will Marc Gasol Get Back to His Star Production Against Lakers’ Big Men?
Gasol was on the fringes of the MVP conversation in the first several weeks of the season. However, he is averaging only 11.8 points per game in December on 35.1 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from downtown.
One key weakness for the Lakers is that they don’t have a great big man who can play well on both ends of the floor for consistent minutes. JaVale McGee is decent, but he’s recovering from flu-like symptoms and he is questionable to play today. Ivica Zubac played very well in a spot start on Friday and Tyson Chandler is a strong veteran defender, but neither guy is at Gasol’s level.
Theoretically, this is a matchup that Gasol can win easily if he is playing at his usual levels. Can he dominate with an All-Star performance or will his recent struggles continue?
Can Grizzlies Keep LeBron James and Co. Out of Transition?
Tempo is a massive key in this game. The Grizzlies are much more confident playing in a slow game where they can use their size, length and half-court execution to their advantage. The Lakers are a team without much size that has a lot of speed and passes the ball very well in transition.
Of course, LeBron James is the head of the snake for Los Angeles. James is a 250-pound locomotive with amazing speed and explosiveness in transition.
Memphis doesn’t have great speed and length on the wing. The Grizzlies don’t have an individual player who can contain James in transition and semi-transition. Other Lakers, like Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, are also dangerous.
The Grizzlies normally don’t go for offensive rebounds very much. In this game, they will probably need to prioritize those rebounds even less to offset the Lakers’ speed advantage.
Will Lakers Win Battle of Free Throws and Start to Improve Their Percentage?
Los Angeles should be the favorite to win the free-throw battle in this matchup. The Lakers take 2.1 more free throws per game than their opponents, while the Grizzlies take 1.8 fewer free throws per game than their opponents.
Keep an eye on how the Lakers play in this game. Staying aggressive on offense and disciplined on defense will be key for Los Angeles to dominate the battle of free-throw attempts.
Of course, getting to the line is only half the battle. The Lakers shoot a league-low 69.3 percent once they got to the line, compared to 80.3 percent for their opponents. If Los Angeles were shooting the same percentage as its opponents this season, it would have 81 more points, or approximately 2.5 more points per game. Free-throw shooting could be a huge deal in this potentially close game.
Our Preview’s Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Lakers Betting Picks & Predictions
Momentum (or lack of it) is a real phenomenon. The Grizzlies’ offense has no real flow or consistency right now, and I don’t like their matchup against the Lakers’ speed, especially since all those speedsters are playing at home. Los Angeles has won six home games in a row, and Memphis has lost four road games in a row.
- The Lakers are a 5.5-point favorite with all the biggest United States’ offshore sports betting sites for this game. Put your money on the Lakers -5.5pts @ best odds of -109 with BetOnline. It isn’t much different at -110 with Bovada and Intertops.
- This total is a tough one to predict. On the one hand, the Grizzlies play a slow pace and their offense is struggling. The Lakers do a great job pushing the pace on their home floor and I think they’ll impose their will on a downtrodden Memphis team. Bet the over 208 total points being scored @ -110 with Bovada or Intertops.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.