Memphis is one of the best home teams in the NBA. It's rare to see the Grizzlies as underdogs in NBA odds as they are today's marquee matchup against Cleveland. The total is set at 195 points.
Potential Finals Preview?
It appears likely that both Cleveland and Memphis will finish second in the Eastern and Western Conference standings, respectively. Atlanta will clearly get the top seed in the East and Golden State the same in the West so there's nowhere to go but down for the Cavaliers and Grizzlies. The Cavs have a three-game lead over Toronto and Chicago for the No. 2 spot in the East and the Grizz are 2.5 games ahead of No. 3 Houston in the West, although the Rockets could get Dwight Howard back very soon. Cleveland is the +190 favorite in NBA Futures odds to win the title at sportsbooks and Memphis is fourth at +1200. Those two as the exact Finals matchup is also fourth at +700.
Rough Stretch for Grizzlies
This is the start of about the toughest three-game stretch any team could have in the NBA as after hosting Cleveland, Memphis hosts Golden State on Friday and then visits defending champion San Antonio on Sunday. Win all three of those, and those Grizzlies title odds are likely to shrink.
Memphis (50-21) enters Tuesday's game on a three-game winning streak. The Grizzlies won easily, as expected, at the New York Knicks on Monday, 103-82 to reach the 50-win campaign for a third straight season. Zach Randolph led the way with 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting as the Grizz hit 51.9 percent from the field. Marc Gasol added 21 points. He's guy the Knicks covet in free agency this summer but few expect Gasol to leave Memphis. Gasol did say before the game he hadn't ruled out the Knicks but only because he hasn't seriously considered his options yet. No team could pay him more (or offer a fifth year) than the Grizzlies. Memphis or any team can offer him a max salary of around $18 million next year but he would get 7.5 percent raises in each season thereafter from the Grizzlies. If he signed with the Knicks or any other club, annual raises would be 4.5 percent with a maximum of a four-year deal.
The Grizzlies rank second in the NBA in defense in allowing 95.2 points per game. New York was the second straight team to not reach 90. Memphis is 34-35-2 against the NBA odds betting spread this season and 31-38-2 'over/under.'
Cavaliers Have Owned West
Cleveland (46-26) also has won three straight games and been off since Sunday's 108-90 blowout in Milwaukee. The Cavs were a bit flat for a while and trailed by 11 in the third quarter against a Bucks team sliding in the standings, but LeBron James sparked a 26-5 run to pull away. He finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Since Jan. 15, Cleveland has the highest winning percentage in the NBA overall (27-6, .818) along with best road record (12-6, .667) and top record against the Western Conference (13-1, .929). In that stretch, the Cavs lead the league as well in points per game differential at plus-10.8. Cleveland has won 16 games this year by 15 or more points, the most of any team in the Eastern Conference.
So with Memphis so good at home, why is it an underdog? The Cavaliers are 13-1 against the West over their previous 14 games with and have seven wins in that run against clubs currently in the playoffs: Golden State, Portland, L.A. Clippers (twice), San Antonio, Dallas and Oklahoma City.
The Cavs are 36-36 against the spread this season and 28-43-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
On Dec. 21 in Cleveland, the Cavaliers were 4.5-point favorites on NBA odds (total of 196.5) and won 105-91. James had 25 points and 11 rebounds while former Cavalier Dion Waiters had 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. The Cavs didn't have trade acquisitions J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov or Iman Shumpert back then. The Grizzlies were just 1-for-16 from 3-point range in that game. Gasol led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Randolph was out injured and Memphis didn't have trade acquisition Jeff Green yet. Also, consider before placing your NBA picks that the Cavs haven't swept the Grizzlies in a season series since 2008-09.
NBA Betting Verdict
This game should have the Grizzlies very fired up. While the Cavs have been invincible at home of late they have been mortal on the road. Memphis has covered its past seven against teams with a winning percentage above .600. The 'under' is 5-2 in Cleveland's past seven following a win of more than 10 points. The 'under' is 4-0 in Memphis' past four at home vs. teams with a winning road record.
NBA Free Picks: Take the points and go 'under' the total at 5Dimes