The red hot Memphis Grizzlies travel to face the LA Clippers on Wednesday in a critical match-up for both teams. The Grizzlies have jumped ahead of the Clippers by a half game thanks to a five-game winning streak. Both teams are trying to hold off the hottest team in the league right now in the Denver Nuggets for home court advantage in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs.
Memphis is looking to make it 14 wins in 15 games and six straight victories as this red hot team has just seemed to go from strength to strength over the past month or so. LA hasn’t been an easy match-up for the Grizzlies so far this season. They lost 101-92 on the road in late October and then suffered a 99-73 demolition at the hands of Chris Paul and co at home in January.
Still, this is a team that is playing really good basketball. Zack Randolph returned to the line-up fr the win in Portland on Tuesday scoring 19 points and adding 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of action. Tayshaun Prince and Marc Gasol join Randolph to form one of the NBA’s more imposing front lines, while Mike Conley has been making this offense sing. Conley registered a career high 15 assists in the win over Portland.
The Grizzlies are one of the better teams in the NBA defensively. The guards disrupt any offense, even one led by Chris Paul and they have the skill and size to compete with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on the inside.
That Paul-led offense scored a season high 129 points in a win on Sunday against the Detroit Pistons. Paul had 20 points in that win, while Blake Griffin tallied 22 points.
The Clippers have played pretty good basketball overall lately winning six of their last nine, but they are 2-2 in their last four and haven’t beaten one of the Western conference’s top five teams since their Jan 14 road win in the previous match-up between these two teams. During that time they’ve gone 0-4 with two home losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a home loss to the San Antonio Spurs and a road defeat against the Denver Nuggets.
LA struggles against the league’s best because of erratic defensive efforts and there are some serious questions about the team cohesion of this offense, which frequently hits the highlight reel against lesser opponents. If Memphis brings its best game then this will be a great test for the Clippers.
Betting Preview: LA Clippers (-6) vs. Memphis
The Clippers start as heavy six-point spread favorites on the spread due to their strong form against the Grizzlies so far this season and also due to home court advantage. It’s always difficult to bet against a line-up that has tremendous depth and talent.
However, their play as a team and against the West’s best teams hasn’t been as good of late. Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe are all still injury concerns and likely game time decisions. They are going to face some serious competition on the inside and outside and they are playing against an offense that has been clicking in recent weeks.
The sensible bet here is to bet against the spread. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a determined Memphis team pick up a win here, but certainly a tighter game than a six-point margin is very likely.
The Pick: Memphis (+6) [5dimes.eu]