The 7-13 Memphis Grizzlies look to snap a nine-game losing streak at home against the 14-7 San Antonio Spurs today (8 p.m. ET Friday).
Memphis’ situation is about as dire as possible right now. Not only are the Grizzlies playing poorly, but their star point guard (Mike Conley) is injured, and they just made a shocking move by firing former head coach David Fizdale. JB Bickerstaff is the interim man in charge.
The Spurs, despite missing MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, remain as steady as ever. Tony Parker is now back at point guard for San Antonio. The squad also has LaMarcus Aldridge playing great basketball and a host of role players contributing positively. Head coach Gregg Popovich remains a genius.
The Spurs are the obvious favorite in this contest, but the game is being played in Memphis. So who will win? Let’s break down the main storylines and then give our preview’s predictions and betting picks for the outcome.
Can the Grizzlies Force Someone Besides LaMarcus Aldridge to Beat Them?
During the past summer, Aldridge’s reputation around the NBA had hit an all-time low. He reportedly wanted out of San Antonio after finishing one of his worst campaigns in several years. It’s rare that players request trades to leave the Spurs, a franchise widely known for its professionalism.
However, Aldridge has started this season on fire with superstar teammate Kawhi Leonard nursing an injury. His 25 points per 36 minutes and 58.7 true shooting percentage are career highs, and he’s also playing well on defense. He just dropped 41 points on Memphis on Wednesday.
San Antonio’s offense outside of Aldridge really isn’t that dynamic right now. If the Grizzlies can prevent Aldridge from getting easy shots, he won’t be in a rhythm and the Spurs will be forced to look to other players to create and score.
Can Marc Gasol Find His Rhythm Inside and Out?
Gasol had a nice game of 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting against the Indiana Pacers a couple weeks ago. In the six games since then, though, the Grizzlies’ star center failed to score 20 points or shoot 40 percent in a game even just once. Against the Spurs on Wednesday, he tallied a mere 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
There’s no denying that Gasol’s inability to shoot like the star he is has contributed to Memphis’ cold streak. Especially with Mike Conley out, the burden falls on him (and Tyreke Evans) to manufacture a lot of offense.
On paper, Gasol has a favorable matchup. His brother, Pau, is the Spur who will guard him a lot. Pau is a good rim protector, but he is painfully slow at his advanced age. Marc needs to use his three-point shot as a weapon in this game to open up offense for himself.
Will San Antonio’s Three-Point Shots Fall for Them?
The Spurs are not a high-volume three-point shooting team, so you wouldn’t think their three balls would play a huge role in their games. They have, though — San Antonio knocks down 39.1 percent of its long balls in wins, but just 30.2 percent of them in losses.
Their home court has played an even bigger role — the Spurs shoot nearly 11 percent worse from three when they hit the road.
Considering San Antonio’s below-average perimeter facilitating abilities, it helps a lot if defenders have to close out hard on shooters. That allows driving lanes to materialize, which lead to all sorts of good looks all over the court.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies Betting Picks & Predictions
San Antonio does have a tendency to let inferior teams hang around in games longer than necessary, and the squad has been considerably worse on the road than at home.
However, given the upheaval of the Grizzlies’ situation and the Spurs’ huge edge in coaching, I expect San Antonio to come away with a win by at least a handful of points.
Here are the predictions and picks for this preview, along with the best options for betting on them with the top ranked bookies for America.
- The Spurs are understandably the favorites, but they only need to win by five to six points to cover the spread with most betting outlets. Bovada and MyBookie offer the best odds of Spurs -4.5pts @ -115.
- These are two slow-paced teams who are better on defense than offense, so the over/under for this game is extremely low, at 193.5. I actually think these teams could go under that number. On Wednesday, they hit 199, but that was with both squads catching fire from three-point range and several difficult shots made by LaMarcus Aldridge. Going with the under 193.5 @ -115 with Bookmaker is the smart play.