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The 7-seed Los Angeles Lakers (43-39) really took their time clinching a playoff berth. While the 2-seed Memphis Grizzlies (51-31) went wire-to-wire as one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Other than Ja Morant flashing a gun on Instagram and a season-ending injuries to C Steven Adams and PF Brandon Clarke, it was an awesome season for Memphis.
Big Jaren Jackson Jr. is will most likely win NBA Defensive Player of the Year and SG Desmond Bane is a “fringe All-Star”. Also, Morant got his act together for now and is the best player in this series.
Lakers fans and the team itself pretty much threw Russell Westbrook under the bus for their early-season woes. They put on a pathetic performance and GM Rob Pelinka got a haul for Westbrook at the trade deadline.
Call me crazy but I think Westbrook and a future 1st-rounder for PG D’Angelo Russell and SF Jarred Vanderbilt is a good trade. (LAL also got SG Malik Beasley but he doesn’t really move the needle).
Russell can catch-and-shoot and conceptually fits with LeBron James. Vanderbilt helps Anthony Davis do the dirty work on defense and usually defends the other team’s best creator.
Lakers vs. Grizzlies Odds (DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Lakers (+120)
- Grizzlies (-140)
- Lakers +1.5 (-230)
- Grizzlies -1.5 (+190)
Here’s the thing: This is a good price for Memphis because everyone is love with this new LAL team. However, the Lakers have gotten so bleeping lucky.
They get all the calls and the NBA clearly wants them in the playoffs. Since February 1st, the Lakers are averaging nearly seven free throw attempts more than their opponents.
They got bailed out again by the refs in a 108-102 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1st play-in game Tuesday. Karl-Anthony Towns was lighting the Lakers up and got into foul trouble on questionable calls.
The T-Wolves were down two starters and a reliable backup big in C Naz Reid. I actually snuck in a bet on the Timberwolves +8 vs. the Lakers right before tip-off so I’m not butt-hurt about the outcome.
Yet the Lakers were down double digits in the 2nd half. Now they are only +120 vs. a Memphis team with continuity and an identity. This is too much of an overreaction to the Lakers’ success since the trade deadline.
I get that the Grizzlies are down Adams and suck in the half-court. But, they have depth and a legit home-court advantage. And, again, Ja Morant will be the best player in this series, which is usually the deciding factor in the playoffs.
His numbers and effectiveness improve in the playoffs. In regular-season games, Morant scores 22.4 points per game (PPG) with 8.1 assists and 6.9 rebounds. In the playoffs, Morant averages 27.1 PPG, throws 9.2 dishes and grabs 6.9 boards.
Pick: Memphis 4-2
If I had an unlimited bankroll, I’d bet the Grizzlies -1.5 (+190) on the series price. Unfortunately, I do not and my NBA playoff strategy is to bet on a game-to-game basis.
The following reasons are why I’m staying away from the Grizzlies (-140) to win the series: Memphis’s bad half-court offense, the NBA’s sketchy playoff officiating, Jackson’s propensity to get into foul trouble, and the possible return of vintage LeBron.
Lakers at Grizzlies, Game 1
- Tip-off: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee.
- Season Series: Tied 2-2 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) and the totals were 3-1 Over/Under (O/U).
I’m willing to lay up to -4.5 with the Grizzlies. First of all, the FedExForum is going to be rocking Sunday and Memphis is a strong home team. The Grizzlies are 6-3 SU and ATS as home favorites of -4 or greater this season.
Furthermore, LeBron has a track-record of losing early in a series to figure out his opponents. It’s like when a poker player calls a bet knowing they’ll lose to “pay for information” and see the cards.
Both of these teams like to get out in transition. But, per CleaningTheGlass.com, Memphis is 3rd offensive fastbreak efficiency and 10th defensively. LAL is 7th offensively and 28th in defensive efficiency.
Also, Vanderbilt might be enough to stop Ja. Lakers guards Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroeder certainly aren’t enough and Morant will dominate the Lakers in this series.
This is a Pros vs. Joe’s game at both DraftKings and in the consensus betting market. According to VSIN and Pregame.com, most of the bets placed are on LAL but a vast majority of the money is on Memphis.
Of course the public is backing the Lakers after they won a primetime game and LeBron scored 30. The sharps know what’s good though and the Grizzlies will wax the Lakers Sunday.
BET: Grizzlies -3.5 (-110) at DraftKings
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