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.
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
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
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