Memphis at Golden St.
Time: 9:30 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: GSW -11
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors have won nine-straight games and will host the Western Conference’s second-worst team in the Memphis Grizzlies in the second game of an NBA TV doubleheader. The Warriors are 11-point favorites over struggling Memphis, who have dropped eight of its past 10 and is just 9-21 on the season. The over/under is set at 207 points by NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Memphis has unraveled this season, and perhaps it is not much of a surprise. The Grizzlies lost team leaders and defensive staples Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, and despite some promising young players, there has been a void in responsibility and leadership on a team that was a playoff mainstay for over a decade. Memphis now is in a tailspin and has lost five of its past six. Marc Gasol remains the heart of the franchise, and said the team “Just want(s) to win,” and that “The season’s not going the way we all wanted early on, obviously.” Indeed, there is little to be hopeful about, but Gasol has hardly been the cause of the team’s struggles as its leading scorer (19.1 points per game) and rebounder (8.6).
Tyreke Evans has blossomed in Memphis, but outside of his strong play and the steady Mike Conley, the Grizzlies do not have any other double-figure scorers. Chandler Parsons has still been unable to recover the “mojo” he had as a Houston Rocket, and Ben McLemore, too, has failed as a reclamation project. Memphis averages just 97 points per game, and it is unclear where the further offense can evolve from. The Grizz certainly have depth, but it is hard to call much of it any better than the mediocre second unit, replacement-level, talents. Unless Parsons returns to being a 15-20 point per game threat and some other players amp up their performances, the result for Memphis this year is going to be an unceremonious dive into the NBA lottery. It is just unfamiliar territory for the franchise, is all.
Golden State has won its past nine games and boasts a 10-3 mark at home this season.
The Dubs are getting another MVP-caliber season from Stephen Curry, who is totaling 26 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game with a team-high PER of 27.8. Last season’s Finals MVP Kevin Durant has been coasting somewhat, with 26.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Klay Thompson has rebounded from a down season a year ago to put his scoring average back over 20 points per game while shooting 46.3 percent from three-point range. Durant, too, knocks down a high clip on his triples (.404). The Warriors connected on 12.2 three-pointers per game while shooting 39.9 percent as a team. One cannot ask for greater efficiency.
Despite 15.8 turnovers per game, the Dubs also rack up 30.6 assists and have a 1.9 Assist: Turnover ratio as a team.
The recipe, of course, leads to what the Warriors can boast of: The league’s highest scoring average at 116.8 points per game. Not to belittle the effort of the Warriors’ defense, despite that rapid and torrid pace, the Dubs hold opponents to 106 points per game, good for a differential of +10.8. Houston may lead the West by a game-and-a-half, but the Warriors have sustainability on its side: No team has amassed more wins in a three-season stretch than Golden State.
Beyond that, there is the argument that this team is merely cruising and preserving its best play for the postseason, which is not an uncommon M.O. among perennial winning clubs. Golden State will have few problems defeating Memphis, but the real questions then become “How much can Steve Kerr rest his starters against teams that fail to measure up to Golden State?” If little things like that matter now in December, imagine all the more so when the season is waning and the Dubs can boast a healthy team in the 2018 playoffs.