Friday night features a fascinating match-up between a pair of likely Western conference playoff teams as fifth place Memphis Grizzlies play host to seventh place Houston Rockets. These two teams haven’t played since December 22, both have had some recent struggles and recent success, they each need victories urgently and this is a big match-up.
Memphis has been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA this year, but they’ve had a few more difficulties recently. They gave up 107 points in Washington and 108 points in New York in two losses on a recent mini-road trip. The Grizzlies have lost five of their last eight dropping back a little bit in the race for third and fourth, and ultimately home court advantage.
There are reasons for the Grizzlies to start feeling a little more confident though. Marc Gasol has returned from injury and the guard-trio continues to play strong with Mike Conley, Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless. They offer a good balance of defense and offense from the back court and that could be the key match-up in this contest.
Meanwhile, Memphis has one of the top front courts in the league. Zach Randolph, Gasol and Tayshaun Prince have great wing span, play tough defense and work hard for offense on the inside.
In the meantime, the Rockets enter this game knowing that they still have work to do to secure their playoff place. They are three and a half games ahead of the ninth placed Utah Jazz and have strengthened their position after going 5-2 on a home stand, which included a win over Utah.
Houston have struggled more on the road though owning a 14-21 record on the road. The big match-up here will be how well James Harden and Jeremy Lin play. Lin hit 20+ points in three straight games in mid-March, but has only scored 18 points over the past three contests. There’s little drop in Harden’s game though as he continues to be one of the best pure scorers in the NBA and his game and his match-up against the Grizzlies will be fascinating.
Betting Preview: Memphis (-5) vs. Houston
The Grizzlies don’t get a great line for a number of reasons. They have struggled in recent weeks for form, Gasol’s fitness is still generally questioned and they are coming up against a team that can just flat out score. This is contest between one of the league’s best offensive teams and one of its best defensive teams. Whose going to come out on top? Here’s three reasons why Memphis will take this game beating the five-point spread.
1) Gasol isn’t 100% but he won’t have a major challenge inside in this game. He will take on Lin and co and control the boards and shut down the lane.
2) Houston will have to shoot their lights out in this game, but they are taking on arguably two of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA in Allen and Conley. The Grizzlies need this win at home and they will disrupt this game inside.
3) Home advantage is a big factor for Memphis and they should be able to run this offense the way that they would like. They are going to throw the ball into the post and should improve their offensive efficiency in that area.
The Pick: Grizzlies (-5) [5dimes.eu]
Writer Record Against the Spread: 7-3