Add Thunder –5.5 vs. Grizzlies to your NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 1:35 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 1:35 PM GMT

The Memphis Grizzlies are 3-5 straight up and against the basketball lines since Marc Gasol hurt his knee. They’ll have a hard time beating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 10 inclusive:

19-18 ATS

4-5 Totals

Once upon a time, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers. And they were ridiculed for it. But look again at the players Memphis got in return: Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie… and Pau’s little brother, Marc Gasol. He turned out all right. The younger Gasol made the All-Star team in 2011-12, and was even better in 2012-13, posting a 19.5 PER with an impressive 11.5 Win Shares. The Lakers got their two championships with Pau, but if you had to choose between the brothers now, you wouldn’t hesitate to choose Marc.

Except for one problem: He’s out indefinitely with a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee. It could have been worse – Memphis thought Gasol may have torn his MCL, but he might only miss the next 3-4 weeks instead of the 6-10 weeks originally reported by the Memphis Flyer. That still leaves the Grizzlies (10-10 SU, 7-12-1 ATS) down one very important big man when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-4 SU, 11-9 ATS) on Wednesday. The NBA lines have OKC laying 5.5 points with a total of 192.

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Gasoholic

As impressive as Gasol has been since making his NBA debut with Memphis in 2008, he’s been even better this year at 20.4 PER, putting up 16.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and a big 4.5 assists per 36 minutes. He’s not quite as fleet of foot as his older brother, but Gasol is much nastier on defense, and forms a deadly combination with PF Zach Randolph (16.6 PER). Everything that Memphis does revolves around those two guys.

Or at least it did. Now that Gasol is out of commission, the Grizz have elevated Kosta Koufos (15.23 PER) to the starting lineup, and although Koufos has performed admirably since coming over from Denver, his production level is down, and there isn’t much beef left on the Memphis bench. The Grizzlies are 3-5 SU and ATS since Gasol went on the DL. Things are not likely to improve much until he returns.

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Run-OKC

Not having to deal with Gasol suits the Thunder just fine. They’re coming off Tuesday’s 101-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks (+3.5 at home), improving to 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS in their last dozen games. Oklahoma City was fifth in the NBA in pace at 99.3 possessions per game going into Tuesday’s action, so these back-to-back games are a test – albeit one that the Thunder have been passing with flying colors. They’re 6-1 ATS in their last seven attempts at playing on zero days of rest, and 18-12 ATS in their last 30.

It certainly helps when you’ve got such a young roster filled with talented players like SF Kevin Durant (28.0 PER) and PG Russell Westbrook (19.6 PER). But the big story from an NBA betting perspective is the growth of the OKC bench. PG Reggie Jackson (17.1 PER) has been a godsend in support of Westbrook. SG Jeremy Lamb (14.2 PER) is showing signs of why he was drafted 12th overall in 2012. And Memphis is going to have trouble dealing with center Steven Adams (14.4 PER). He does not play nice.

I’d be a lot more keen on fading the Grizzlies if they were the ones playing on zero days of rest in Wednesday’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET). But it’s not much of a stretch to take the Thunder. They’ve got all the players they’ll need for this contest. Can’t say the same for the Grizz. But if you want to talk barbecue, I’ll pick Memphis every time.

NBA Pick: Take the Thunder –5.5 (–103) at Marathon

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