The Grizzlies & Pacers play the back end of a back-to-back on Thursday. It’s probably the case that you don’t need to worry about a back-to-back here; just evaluate the teams, which we’ll do here.
Neither team has momentum – not of the good kind, anyway. The Grizzlies were torn apart at home by the Cleveland Cavaliers. There’s no shame in getting crushed by LeBron James, but nevertheless, the Griz didn’t do anything right and were never in the game from the second quarter onward. Memphis lacked the outside shooting which has been a constant deficiency for the team over the past several years, even while its low-post core of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol has gotten so much good work done.
The Pacers didn’t get blown out, but they did lose to Toronto on Wednesday and failed to cover the NBA odds. Indiana contained Toronto in the first two quarters, holding the Raptors under 40 points in the first half. Yet, Toronto was able to turn everything around in the second half. The Raptors, limited to 37 points in the first half, scored 35 points in the third quarter alone, and 34 more in the fourth. Toronto scored 69 in the second half after those 37 points in the opening 24 minutes of play. The Pacers have to be very discouraged that they couldn’t play a complete 48 minutes of defense. It is their defense which they rely on to get wins. It’s just not a very strong offensive team. Indiana has to regroup quickly.
With this matchup, there is a powerful advantage for each team. For Memphis, the advantage is that Indiana just doesn’t have experienced size anymore. Roy Hibbert is now a Los Angeles Laker, and David West is now a San Antonio Spur. The Randolph-Gasol combo should be able to feast in the paint and on the glass in this game, and it will be hard for Indiana to keep up.
On the other hand, the advantage the Pacers have is that, one night after getting hurt by Toronto’s perimeter-and-wing combination of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, they will not face a team with perimeter scorers. Memphis simply isn’t that kind of team, so Indiana can expect to enjoy a much more productive night on defense. The Pacers should be able to play good initial defense against the Griz. However, the problem is that Memphis can clobber the Pacers on the boards. If Memphis gets enough offensive rebounds, it will win even if it misses a lot of jumpers.
What’s The Pick?
Back-to-backs can often reveal a lot about teams, and they can also be important factors in betting situations, but when a back-to-back occurs at the very start of the season, legs are not tired, and players are not exhausted. Coaches do want to manage minutes just the same, but the importance of resting players in a back-to-back this early into the season just isn’t the same as late December or early February.
The Grizzlies started as three-point favorites but are now 2.5. Bettors noticed how bad Memphis looked against Cleveland, and that’s why the line moved down. However, the Griz are so much better on the boards than the Pacers are. That’s going to show up in an early-season game, when legs are fresh. Take Memphis with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Memphis -2.5 (-115) at Bookmaker