Free NBA Picks: Grizzlies at Rockets Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/25/2013
The next 2-3 weeks could determine whether or not the Memphis Grizzlies are sellers at the NBA's February trade deadline. Entering Wednesday's action, Memphis (12-15) is 13th in the ultra-deep Western Conference and three games out of the last playoff spot. The reason for the 2-3 week timetable is that is when the team believes center Marc Gasol, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, will return from a severely sprained MCL injury.
Predictably the Grizzlies have struggled without their best player -- and he is their best player these days, not Zach Randolph. The Grizz are 5-10 since Gasol (16.0 points, 7.1 rebounds) went down on Nov. 22. He's off crutches, which is a positive sign. Should Memphis be totally buried by the time Gasol returns and not turn it on immediately, the team could opt to start trading, probably starting with Randolph. He's still a good player, averaging 16.6 points and 9.9 rebounds, but he's not great on defense and has a nearly $17 million player option for next season. There's been some talk of a Randolph for Pau Gasol deal, with the thinking that Pau would be re-energized by playing with his brother. The Lakers as of now don't seem all that interested in taking on anyone who has a contract for next season, however. Whether Kobe Bryant's latest injury changes that thinking remains to be seen.
The Rockets are likely to be a bit winded for this one as they played in San Antonio on Christmas Night. They have been very inconsistent, failing to win two straight games in December. They also haven't lost more than two straight.
Grizzlies at Rockets Betting Story Lines
Gasol is not the only injury problem for the Grizzlies. Valuable reserve swingman Quincy Poindexter was recently lost for the season with a stress fracture in his right foot. He was averaging 6.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 18 minutes this season and had gotten a contract extension. Forward Tayshaun Prince has missed the past three games with a knee injury and is iffy for Thursday. Prince used to be a very good player but is a shell of that guy, averaging just 6.0 points in 26.6 minutes. James Johnson, a former D-League player, has been starting the past few games in his absence.
Memphis has won two straight games, but it's not worth getting all that excited about as it was against the Knicks and Jazz, two terrible teams. Randolph had 25 points and 15 boards against New York and 22 and 10 against the Jazz. It was his first back-to-back 20-10 games since mid-to-late November. That's also the last time Memphis won more than two straight games.
Houston is without a starter due to injury: point guard Patrick Beverley, the guy who altered last season's Western Conference playoffs by running into the knee of Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, is out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand, a malady that has hit several big-name players this season. Beverley is a very good defensive player. Jeremy Lin had missed four straight games with an injury but returned for Monday's 111-104 loss to Dallas and slid back into the starting lineup at the point. He had 20 points in 37 minutes. James Harden missed that game and the previous one with an ankle injury but was hoping to play on Christmas. Houston continues to sit center Omer Asik, supposedly with a thigh injury. He's healthy, but the team just doesn't want his negativity on the court. Asik was supposed to be traded by Dec. 19 from the Rockets’ own deadline, but they couldn't get what they wanted. If he's not gone by February it's a minor miracle.
Grizzlies at Rockets NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Houston opened as a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 198. Memphis is 9-17-1 ATS (5-5-1 on road) and 13-14 “over/under” (6-5 on road). All Rockets trends entering Wednesday: Houston is 15-13-1 ATS (8-6-1 at home) and 16-13 O/U (6-9 at home). The Grizzlies are 1-5 ATS in their past six Thursday games. They are 0-6 ATS in their past six against teams with a winning record. Houston is 6-1 ATS in its past seven in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 7-2 in Memphis' past nine Thursday games. The over is 6-0 in Houston's past six in the second of a back-to-back. The favorite has covered eight of the past nine meetings.
Free NBA Picks: Grizzlies at Rockets Betting Predictions
Memphis hosted Houston on Nov. 25, and the Rockets won 93-86 as Houston outscored Memphis 38-23 in the fourth quarter thanks to 70 percent shooting and behind a combined 20 points from Chandler Parsons and Omri Casspi in that quarter. Oddly, Howard didn't play a second in that quarter, with Asik logging all 12 minutes. Harden missed that game, and it was Memphis' first full game without Gasol. However, the Grizzlies are just 6-30 all-time in Houston. They did win their last visit there in April ending a 13-game skid in Houston. I don't expect Memphis to win -- unless Harden sits out -- but with the Rockets playing Wednesday night that should be enough to keep the Grizzlies close. Take the points and the over.
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