Grizzlies at Thunder Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 1/31/2013
I really don’t understand what Memphis Grizzlies ownership is doing by trading Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. Of course, no team wants to pay what is going to be a very punitive luxury tax by going over the salary cap under the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement. But the Grizzlies, who are as cash-strapped as any team in the league (reportedly lost $12.5 million last year), already got under the cap with their recent salary dump trade of reserves Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington (those two were in the rotation) and Josh Selby along with a future first-round pick to Cleveland.
The Grizzlies had a very good Top 4 of point guard Mike Conley, small forward Gay, power forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol. The problem was that the team essentially had no wiggle room to add anyone with all four locked up. Gay was owed $37 million in each of the next two seasons, and Randolph and Gasol are owed a combined $65 million through the 2014-15 season. That’s why the Grizz were actively shopping Gay, who averages 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Is Gay worth nearly $19 million a year? Certainly not. His points-per-game average would be his lowest by far since his rookie year, and Gay is shooting a career-worst 40.8 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from long-range.
The problem is that Memphis didn’t get equal value for Gay, receiving young prospect Ed Davis from Toronto and Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye from Detroit – the Raptors got Gay and the Pistons received Toronto point guard Jose Calderon. Gay is just the fifth player in the past five years to be traded in-season after averaging at least 17 points and 5 rebounds. Prince will slide right into Gay’s starting spot. Defensively, it’s probably an upgrade. But Prince is 32 and his best days are behind him. He’s averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Memphis should have given its core group a chance to make a run. It is fourth in the West at 29-15 and already owns wins this year over the likes of the Thunder, Spurs, Heat, Knicks and Nets. The game slows down in the playoffs, and Memphis has a frontcourt that could win any series but it still needs a perimeter shooter like Gay. Memphis is +800 to win the West on Sportsbook.ag and +1800 to win the NBA title. A Heat-Grizzlies NBA Finals matchup is +1200 (odds haven’t changed yet after deal).
Grizzlies at Thunder Betting Story Lines
Memphis enters off a 103-100 win at Philly, the team’s third victory in four games and a nice bounce-back from an inexplicable 91-83 home loss to New Orleans. The Grizz do have a bad habit of following impressive wins with head-scratching losses – they routed the Lakers and Nets before the Hornets loss. Gay had 26 points and the winning bucket against the Sixers as Memphis rallied from a 17-point deficit.
Conley missed the Philly game with a minor ankle injury. He did participate in the non-contact portion of practice Wednesday and is questionable for the Thunder (officially a game-time decision). Reserve guard Tony Wroten left the team to attend the birth of his child in Seattle but should be back. Jerryd Bayless started for Conley against Philadelphia and had easily his best game of the season with 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds.
Oklahoma City likely has been stewing since Sunday’s 105-96 loss at the Lakers – it was only L.A.’s second win in the past 11 in the series (including playoffs). Kevin Durant had 36 points for the Thunder and Russell Westbrook was one rebound shy of a triple-double. It was OKC’s lowest-scoring game in the past seven. But the Thunder were clearly gassed as it was the finale of a season-high six-game road trip. OKC finished 3-3 on the trip.
These two met in Oklahoma City on Nov. 14, and the Grizzlies won 107-97 as a 5.5-point dog. Gay had 28 points, and Randolph 20 points and 11 rebounds before he and Thunder center Kendrick Perkins were ejected after an altercation. Memphis never trailed in the second half. Durant had 34 to lead the Thunder. It was the Grizzlies’ second straight win dating to last season in OKC. But overall Memphis is 8-24 in Oklahoma City.
I don’t read too much into that first meeting as the Thunder were still adjusting to the trade of James Harden. They are 28-8 since that loss with just one home defeat (Brooklyn). In fact, that Memphis defeat is the Thunder’s only home loss in 14 games against Western Conference foes. Memphis was playing its best basketball back then as well.
Grizzlies at Thunder NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Thunder are 9.5-point favorites on BetOnline with a total of 192. Memphis is 26-17-1 ATS (12-8 on road) and 15-28-1 “over/under” (7-12-1 on road). Oklahoma City is 26-17-2 ATS (14-8 at home) and 22-23 O/U (13-9 at home).
Memphis is 6-2 ATS in its past eight road games. The Grizzlies are 1-4 ATS in their past five Thursday games. OKC is 4-0 ATS in its past four after a loss. The Thunder have covered just one of their past six Thursday games. The under is 5-1 in Memphis’ past six Thursday games. The over is 9-4 in Oklahoma City’s past 13 games against teams with a winning record. The road team has covered the past five meetings.
Grizzlies at Thunder Picks and Betting Predictions
Which team will control the pace? The Thunder lead the NBA in scoring (105.7 points per game) while Memphis is tops in scoring defense (89.5). That made the score of the first meeting so unusual. Oklahoma City is well-rested and is 9-1 after a loss this season. I have no doubt the Thunder win. I took the Grizzlies and the points, however, before the trade. Now I think the Memphis players will be rather dejected at ownership’s cheapness. Take OKC and the over.
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