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Grizzlies vs Clippers NBA betting picks and predictions: All aboard the Memphis express

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The Memphis Grizzlies wrap up their California road trip on Monday night as they take on the Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies have surpassed expectations this season and are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference thanks in large part to rookie sensation Ja Morant.

The Clippers are in third place in the West with a 37-19 record and have the third-best odds to win the NBA championship just after the Bucks and Lakers. They might be without Paul George in this game, with the All-Star listed as questionable with a strained hamstring.

We break down the NBA betting odds and bring you our predictions and picks for this West Coast showdown.   

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES AT LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (-9.5, 233.5) 

 

QUICK HITTER

When it comes to first-quarter scoring, Memphis ranks ninth in the NBA with 29.1 ppg, a few spots ahead of the Clippers who average 28.5.

The Clippers play hard on the defensive end of the court, but they have been vulnerable in the opening quarter of games. They surrender 27.8 points per game in the first quarter, which ranks 20th in the league. We’re expecting the young and energetic Grizzlies to get out to a quick start and are backing them on the first quarter spread.

PICK: First Quarter Memphis +2.5

FIRST HALF BET

We expect the Grizz to cover the first quarter spread but the second quarter should be showtime for the Clippers. Los Angeles has an average second-quarter margin of plus-2.2 ppg (third best in the league), while Memphis has a second-quarter margin of minus-1.9 (fifth worst). The Grizzlies scoring margin in the second frame is even worse on the road at minus-3.9.

The Clippers are sixth in the league in first-half scoring with 58.5 ppg, and Memphis has surrendered 64.3 first half ppg over their last three contests. Expect the Clips to go Over their 1H team total.

PICK: First Half Team Total Clippers Over 59.5

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas has been dominating on the glass lately. The big man is averaging 10.6 rebounds per game on the season and has bumped that number up to 13.6 over the month of February. Valanciunas grabbed 12 boards in just 22 minutes against the Clippers in January, and pulled down 16 rebounds in the first meeting with the Clips in November.

With Jaren Jackson Jr. sidelined with a knee injury, Valanciunas could be in an even better spot to log more minutes and grab more boards. Take the Over on his rebounds total.

PICK: Jonas Valanciunas Over 11.5 rebounds

TOTAL BET

Memphis and Los Angeles are seventh and eighth in the league in pace, and both teams can fill up the bucket, with the Clippers averaging 115.7 ppg and Memphis putting up 113.1.

Memphis also gives up plenty of scoring chances, surrendering 114.8 ppg, 23rd most in the league.

Clippers point guard Patrick Beverly is listed as questionable with a groin injury. But L.A. recently signed Reggie Jackson who had been waived by the Pistons. Jackson averages 14.5 points and 5.1 assists per game and should give the Clips a boost on the offensive end, but he’s a huge downgrade from Beverly on defense.

We’re betting on a fast-paced, high-scoring affair and taking the Over.

PICK: Over 233.5

FULL GAME SIDE

The Grizzlies are coming off back-to-back road losses to the Lakers and Kings, but they have played well against the Clippers this season. Memphis destroyed the Clippers by a score of 140-114 in January, and lost on a last-second bucket in their first meeting back in November.

Definitely monitor George’s health as we get closer to tip off, but considering how conservative the Clippers organization (and pretty much the entire league) has been when it comes to playing banged up stars, we expect them to exercise caution and sit him out in this game.

While the Clippers should be able to take this game, covering a 9-point spread won’t be easy, especially with how well the young Grizzlies run the floor. The Clippers have versatile defenders but they give up 14.4 points per game on the fastbreak, which ranks 23rd in the league, and that number has ballooned to 20.3 ppg over their last three contests.

Led by Morant, Memphis scores 17.7 ppg on the fast break, fourth-best in the NBA. Expect the fast-paced Grizz to make a game of it and back them on the spread.

PICK: Memphis +9.5

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.