Memphis opened as a 12-point favorite on NBA odds with a total of 206.5
Home Goodbye For 2
This will almost surely be the final home game for two Lakers and only one will be cheered by the crowd. That would be Pau Gasol. The Lakers don't win back-to-back championships in 2009 &'10 without acquiring Gasol from Memphis at the trade deadline in 2008. One piece of that trade that was overlooked at the time? Memphis got the draft rights to another Spaniard by the name of Marc Gasol. So it actually wasn't a totally lopsided trade for the Lakers.
Pau hasn't played since April 1 due to a recurrence of vertigo and isn't likely to do so here, but the team will make sure he's introduced in some fashion. He can become a free agent this summer and has said he wants to play for a contender. That won't be the Lakers, who are having the worst season in franchise history. It's possible that Pau does go play with his brother in Memphis.
Meanwhile, no one expects Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni to be back on the bench next season, especially after Kobe Bryant reportedly said he had "no interest" in playing for D'Antoni next season back in March. It's not Bryant's call and GM Mitch Kupchak, who just got a contract extension, says Bryant won't be consulted about whether to keep D'Antoni on. Don't buy that. Even at age 35, Kobe still essentially runs this franchise. The Lakers made sure of that by inexplicably giving him a two-year extension earlier this year, one of the most baffling extensions in league history considering Kobe's health. Already Kentucky's John Calipari has been mentioned as a possible D'Antoni replacement but that's considered a long shot. At least we know it won't be Phil Jackson, and actually Jackson's Knicks already have inquired via a third party if Calipari would be interested in coaching there next season.
The Lakers (18-21-1 ATS, 21-19 ATS at home on sportsbooks) have lost six straight, allowing at least 107 points in each.
Memphis (17-20-2 ATS, 23-17 O/U on road at sportsbooks) entered Saturday tied for the final playoff spot in the West and the tiebreaker advantage over Phoenix. The Grizzlies need to send San Antonio a gift card as the Spurs beat No. 7 Dallas on Thursday and then the Suns on Friday despite being short-handed in both.
If Memphis makes the playoffs it can point to Wednesday's 107-102 home win over Miami. The schedule-makers did the Grizzlies quite a favor this week, actually. That was the second of a back-to-back for the Heat after a huge one against the Nets the night before. Then Memphis hosted wretched Philadelphia on Friday and rolled 117-95. Starting forward Tayshaun Prince missed that game with an ankle injury and is day-to-day. James Johnson started in his place and had 10 points and six rebounds.
One has to wonder if this is a trap game for Memphis. Monday it's at Phoenix and Wednesday hosts Dallas to close the regular season.
Memphis leads 2-1. The first two matchups were at the Grizzlies' slow defensive pace with both staying well under the total. The most recent meeting was more at the Lakers' pace: i.e. lots of points for both teams because they can't stop anyone. Memphis won that won 108-103 at home on Feb. 26 and that was well over the total. Zach Randolph averages 19.7 points and 11.3 rebounds against L.A. this year. Marc Gasol 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in two games. Jodie Meeks leads L.A. at 19.0 ppg against Memphis in three games while Pau Gasol averages 16.0 ppg and 10.7 rpg against his brother's squad.
NBA free picks: Lakers +12 and the under. Will Memphis win? Sure, but L.A. will put up a fight in its home finale. The Grizzlies are 0-7 ATS in their past seven road games. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings in L.A.