The NBA Odds have the Grizzlies as +6 underdogs in this game, however certain other books have the line at +5 1/2, after the number opened at +5. All of the early fluctuation is likely due to James’ status, who surprisingly was ruled out only 30 minutes before game time on Wednesday.
Pat Riley; king of NBA trolls
Besides Pat Riley trying to troll all of the NBA bettors and people with picks on the Heat’s game Wednesday, Lebron’s late scratch is almost typical at this time in the season. The Heat have probably been looking to get him some rest after he has carried Miami this season, and after dropping a huge 40-point performance the night before, James was probably in need of a rest. They need him fresh for the playoffs, and Lebron is far from fresh right now. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him sit out once or twice more before the end of the regular season, and it might be tonight.
If Lebron is not back tonight, the Grizzlies suddenly become a great value play for our NBA picks. Memphis isn’t without injury concerns of their own, but they would be an amazing value if Lebron sits out again, or maybe even if Dwyane Wade doesn’t play. The Grizzlies have been solid ATS recently, and they are just the type of team that could give Miami trouble.
Mike Conley said recently that his ankle is still not 100% from an injury he sustained some time ago, but he has been playing solidly for the Grizzlies. Even though he has a tough matchup tonight, he won’t be called upon tonight to carry a heavy load. That job will be given to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who will both need to own the paint in Miami if the Grizz want to win and/or cover here.
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The Sharp Pick
If the news on Lebron is positive, and he looks like he will play, the spread for this game likely won’t go anywhere. It seems like the NBA odds here are reflecting the sportsbook’s belief that Lebron will play, however if he doesn’t make his return from his one-game absence, the line would plummet, making the +6 we have right now very valuable for a speculative wager.
When it comes to placing my NBA picks here, I think the Grizzlies can cover even with James back in the lineup, but if for some reason James has to sit again due to his sore back, it immediately makes the Grizzlies the play of the day. So far this season, the Grizzlies are 18-13-1 ATS on the road this year, and as road underdogs this season, the Grizzlies are 11-8 ATS so far.
Miami has not been that solid at home this season ATS, going 13-18-1 so far when playing at home. Another scenario where they haven’t been good this season is when they have one day off in between games. They have been solid ATS on the second night of a back to back, but on one day’s rest, the Heat are only 14-20-1 ATS this season. I see the Grizzlies covering and keeping the game close.
My Pick: Grizzlies +6