The Boston Celtics (21-21) and Memphis Grizzlies (19-20) meet on Monday night in a battle of teams hanging around .500. Boston won the only meeting this season by a final of 126-107 back in late December. Both teams are 2-4 in their last six games. Let’s see their NBA odds.
Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Monday, March 22, 2021 – 09:00 PM EDT at FedExForum
The Celtics are a 1-point road favorite at most NBA sportsbooks. Boston is only 8-14 on the road, but Memphis is not a strong home team with a record of 10-13. On the season, the Celtics rank 10th in Net Rating while the Grizzlies are close behind at No. 12, so much like this spread and the team’s records, things are close here.
Does that mean the game will be really close too?
Celtics: What’s Gone Wrong?
Boston head coach Brad Stevens has had to address rumors that he could be leaving the Celtics to coach the Indiana Hoosiers. Fans of the Hoosiers even built a shrine for him this past week to draw his attention, but the coach is reportedly intent on righting the ship with the Celtics in his eighth season.
At the rate things are going, Stevens may want to reconsider the idea of moving on. Following an 8-3 start, the Celtics are just 13-18 in their last 31 games. They have had three different 1-4 stretches since the first week of February, including one in their first five games coming out of the All-Star break.
Part of the problem has been a recent tough schedule. Most teams would lose to the Jazz and Nets right now, but Boston’s last two losses were to the Cavaliers and Kings, two losing teams. The Celtics managed just 96 points against the Kings on Friday and are now 1-17 this season when scoring fewer than 111 points.
Boston rebounded with a 112-96 win over Orlando, another bad team, on Sunday. In a game where they led by as many as 23 points, the Celtics attempted a season-high 54 three-point shots, hitting a season-high 23 of them for a success rate of 42.6%. The Celtics are 15-1 when they shoot better than 40% from three in a game this season. The Grizzlies only rank 18th in opponent 3P% (.370) this season, and one of those 15 Boston wins at 40% was the Memphis game on December 30 when the Celtics hit 16 of 39 (41.0%) from three.
Against Orlando, Jaylen Brown led the way with 34 points as he hit 10 of his 18 three-pointers, which are also career-highs for one game (including playoffs). Boston has not been on any kind of three-pointer binge coming out of the break, so Sunday looks like a jump-shooting anomaly more than anything. The Celtics also only had nine free throw attempts, their third-lowest game of the season. You should expect a more conventional approach to the Memphis game from Boston’s offense, which will not have Kemba Walker as he rests his knee.
Grizzlies: Keep the Score Down
More than most teams this season, the Grizzlies need their defense to come through to win. Memphis ranks 21st in Offensive Rating and seventh in Defensive Rating, however, the Grizzlies lack a dominant scorer to lead the way in high-scoring games. Ja Morant may have gotten his season started with a 44-point effort in December, but he is the team’s leading scorer and only averages 19.0 points per game.
Fun stat: Grizzlies are 0-14 when allowing at least 115 points and the Celtics are 16-0 when scoring more than 115 points this season.
Outside of beating up on Houston, Boston has not been able to hit 115 points in any other game coming out of the break. The Grizzlies allowed 116 points to Golden State in a loss on Friday night, but came back stronger defensively in a rematch on Saturday in a 111-103 win. The Grizzlies shot 38.9% from the field, their third-worst game of the season, but they still managed to win.
Memphis’ three-point shot has been in the tank recently, hitting under 32% of the time in five of the last six games. For the season, the Grizzlies rank 25th in 3P% (.348), and only two teams shoot the three less often.
Memphis is 22-17 ATS, the seventh-best record this season. Boston is 7-15 ATS on the road, the second-worst record in the NBA.
This is the start to a four-game road trip for Boston, which has lost eight of its last nine road games. The Grizzlies are 19-6 when holding opponents under 115 points. With Boston coming down to earth from three and Walker out, I like the Grizzlies to keep the score down and find a way to pull this game out at home. I’ll take the Grizzlies for my Monday night NBA picks.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.