Free NBA Picks: Suns at Grizzlies Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/3/2013
All of the NBA attention last week was focused on Derrick Rose's season-ending knee injury, and you can understand that. However, an almost equally big injury was overlooked by many: the Grade 2 MCL strain in the left knee of the Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
The Grizzlies are built on their defense as they struggle to score points. Thus, losing Gasol, who has been an ironman in his career, is a huge blow. He's probably out at least a month as he can't even rehab the injury for another few weeks when he gets off crutches. With him on the court last season, the Grizzlies allowed 95.4 points per 100 possessions. With Gasol on the bench, they allowed 102.2 points per 100 possessions.
Gasol was averaging 16.0 points (career high), 7.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists this year. He also was a terrific free throw shooter, a rarity for a big man. Offensively the loss will be felt too as the majority of the Memphis plays ran through Gasol because he's such a good post up player and passer (like his brother Pau). In fact, Gasol led the league in touches out of the high post, often finding teammates off cuts to the basket or Gasol himself hitting jumpers from the elbow.
Including the game in which he went down early on Nov. 22, the Grizzlies have lost three of four, and all four opponents have scored at least 93 points. The Grizz are allowing 95.9 points per game, a pretty decent number, but far off last year's league-leading 89.3 per game. Because of the offensive limitations, the Grizz are have a negative point differential on the season, an average of -2.3 per game. Kosta Koufos has been getting big minutes at center with Gasol out. Koufos has been rebounding well, with three straight games of at least 11, but he's otherwise a big downgrade over Gasol.
Tuesday's game is the first meeting of the season between Phoenix and Memphis.
Suns at Grizzlies Betting Story Lines
Phoenix continues to be one of the league's biggest surprises, and Jeff Hornacek is an early contender for NBA Coach of the Year. Last Wednesday, the Suns stopped Portland's 11-game winning streak in relative ease. They do enter off an ugly 112-104 home loss to the Jazz on Saturday, but that was a total trap game. The Suns were playing the third game in four nights and had won in Utah by 11 the night before.
Eric Bledsoe, who was terrific to start the season, returned to the lineup Friday after missing the previous six games with a shin injury. He came off the bench in both Jazz games in place of Gerald Green, but I doubt that continues much longer if not ending Tuesday. In fact, Bledsoe started the second half Saturday. Hornacek wants to play fast with his backcourt of Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, much like when the Suns were a fun team to watch back when Hornacek played with Kevin Johnson. Dragic has been lighting it up, averaging 22.3 points and 9.0 assists in the past seven.
There are some warning signs for Phoenix, and they involve defense. It has allowed triple digits in four straight games, and giving up 112 to the lousy Jazz is not good, trap game or not. Utah had been shooting less than 42 percent from the field entering the weekend but shot 48 and then 51 percent against that defense in the split. We should find out what Phoenix really is over the new few weeks with 10 of the Suns' next 13 games having records of .500 or better entering this week.
Memphis was going to have to count a lot more from Zach Randolph offensively and on the boards with Gasol out. That didn't go too well in the first two games with Randolph shooting a combined 10-for-28 from the field and managing only 13 boards. He then missed Saturday's loss to Brooklyn with an ingrown toenail. I'm assuming Randolph returns for this one; Ed Davis started in his spot against the Nets and had a solid line of 10 points and eight rebounds. The Grizz need to see what Davis can do because he will be a restricted free agent after the season. He was part of the package acquired in last season's Rudy Gay deal.
Suns at Grizzlies NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
Sportsbook.ag has opened the Grizzlies as 3.5-point favorites with the total listed at 190.5. The Suns are 12-4-1 ATS (8-1 on road) and 10-7 “over/under” (5-4 on road). The Grizzlies are 5-10-1 ATS (1-7 at home) and 8-8 O/U (4-4 at home). Phoenix is 7-0 ATS in its past seven after an ATS loss. It is 8-2 ATS following a straight up loss. The Grizzlies are 6-0 ATS in their past six Tuesday games. Memphis has covered just twice in its past 11 after an ATS loss. The over is 7-1 in Phoenix's past eight after a loss. The over is 8-1 in the Grizzlies' past nine Tuesday games. The underdog has covered five of the past eight in this series.
Free NBA Picks: Suns at Grizzlies Betting Predictions
Last season, the teams split the series 2-2. Memphis has won six of the past eight meetings at home. The Grizzlies were terrific at home last season but are just 3-5 there in 2013. Still, I think the Suns are coming back to earth a bit. Presuming Randolph plays, take Memphis. Take the over regardless.
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