L.A. Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
Time: 8:05 PM ET
TV: NBA League Pass
Spread: MEM -5
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The Los Angeles Clippers are starting to come down to earth with starting power forward Blake Griffin sidelined. Early NBA daily lines showed the Memphis Grizzlies as 5-point favorites in a game with the total undefined at Bovada. For an explanation of how to bet NBA odds, see our NBA odds explained.
Memphis is 23-5 SU at home this season and has won seven of its past 10 contests.
The L.A. Clippers destroyed the lowly Sacramento Kings on Saturday (Feb 21) night, winning by 27 after having been up 66-47 at the half. It gave Doc Rivers a chance to get his son Austin into the game for some minutes and the youngster responded, scoring 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting (5 of 9 from three-point range), as one of three Clippers to score 23 points or more in the game.
Wednesday (Feb 25) night, the Clips fell 110-105 to the Houston Rockets, despite getting 24 points from Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul putting on another passing display with 14 assists.
However, with Griffin sidelined, the Clippers have turned to starting stretch-4/5 Spencer Hawes, while also giving both Hedo Turkolgu and Glen Davis increased minutes off the bench. Hawes hit 3 of 5 from the floor (including a three) en route to seven points, six boards and three blocked shots in the Kings contest. But Wed night he shot just 1 of 9 from the floor while posting the worst plus/minus of any starter (neg.-3).
The Clippers really have enough scoring to supplant Griffin’s production, so it is more a matter of restructuring the half court offense to make Hawes’ skill set work within the frame of what Doc Rivers is trying to accomplish. In the win over Sacto, the Clippers hit 14 of 35 from three-point range (40 percent) and also had 31 assists to just 11 turnovers.
With the team shooting and passing with that kind of acumen, Griffin can continue to miss time provided he is healthy for the postseason. The loss to Houston told a different story, however, as the Clips turned it over 15 times while managing just 18 assists. Also, L.A. shot just 44 percent from the floor and subtracting Crawford from the equation, the rest of the team shot just 30 of 77 (38 percent).
Memphis has the most stingy defense in the NBA, allowing just 95.7 points per game, while scoring 100.5 itself (+5.2 differential).
Marc Gasol is a free agent at season’s end, and he’s going to get a max contract. The one-time Defensive Player of the Year leads the team in PER (22.4) while averaging 18.3 points, eight rebounds and 2.55 blocks/steals per game.
He’s augmented on the frontline by stalwart Zach Randolph, who continues to produce despite now being 33 years of age.
The power forward is averaging 16.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game while posting a PER of 21.0. Last matchup against the Clippers he had just 10 points and eight boards, however. Tonight he’ll find his workload much easier without having to contend with Griffin on the defensive end.
The Grizzlies have as tough a three-guard defensive rotation as any in the league. Mike Conley, Courtney Lee and Tony Allen are all superb on ball defenders and the Grizzlies’ tough D begins in the backcourt. Between the trio, the Grizzlies get 4.19 steals per game, while the team averages 8.52 per game. The Grizzlies also take good care of the ball itself, averaging just 12.6 turnovers per game and posting a team assist: turnover ratio of 1.7.
The Grizzlies have received a nice boost from Jeff Green, who was acquired from the Boston Celtics. Green is averaging just under 30 minutes per game and posting 12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He’s filling a role much more like what he did early in his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Green is best when he is able to let the game come to him.
That wasn’t the case as the No. 1 option in Boston for most of this season, but in Memphis his role has changed for the better. Moreover, if the Grizzlies do lose Gasol this summer in free agency, Green will be able to absorb much of that scoring role with an increased portion of the offensive load.