The Memphis Grizzlies are 6-point favorites on Wednesday's NBA odds at Sacramento with a total of 198.5. Don't rule out the Grizz, as they may even overtake the Warriors for the West's top seed.
Green With Envy
The Grizzlies (41-14) entered Tuesday's action three games behind Golden State for the West's lead. Memphis has won two straight and eight of its past 10. Those last two wins were pretty impressive, coming Sunday at Portland and Monday at the L.A. Clippers. That latter victory ended L.A.'s four-game winning streak in which it had scored at least 110 points in every game. It also ended the Clippers' 12-game home winning streak against Western Conference opponents. Memphis slows most teams down to a plodding pace it likes as the Grizzlies are No. 1 in the NBA in scoring defense at 95.5 points per game.
Memphis was quiet at last Thursday's trade deadline but it made a big move Jan. 12, acquiring swingman Jeff Green from Boston in a three-team deal that also included New Orleans. It cost the Grizzlies forward Tayshaun Prince, swingman Quincy Pondexter and a 2015 second-round pick. That trade grades out as an A+ right now for Memphis. The team is a Western Conference-best 15-3 since adding Green and 12-2 with him in the starting lineup. He's averaging 12.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 29.4 minutes a night with the Grizzlies. Those numbers don't look great, but Green can shot from long range, drive to the basket, post up and guard shooting guards, small forward and power forwards. Since that deal, Memphis has climbed two spots in the West standings. Overall, the team is 13-5 against the seven other teams currently in playoff position in the West. No one will want to play the Grizzlies.
The Memphis bench is still missing a piece as Vince Carter has missed nine straight games with a foot injury. It's not a huge loss as Carter has been a disappointment, averaging only 6.0 points in 16.6 minutes. The Grizzlies are 28-25-2 against the NBA odds point spread this season and 24-29-2 'over/under.'
Kings Have New Leader
It's now clear that the Kings (19-35) shouldn't have fired Coach Mike Malone back in mid-December as the team was off to a solid 11-13 start. Sacramento went into the toilet under interim coach Tyrone Corbin, going 7-21. Thus a ninth straight losing campaign is a lock. However, the team wised up and dumped Corbin in favor of one of the NBA's winningest coaches ever in George Karl. He took over during the All-Star break.
The Kings won Karl's debut on Friday, 109-101 at home against Boston. But any positive feelings from that disappeared quickly with a 126-99 blowout at the L.A. Clippers on Saturday. The Clips were down five points entering the second quarter and then outscored the Kings 42-18. That was the fourth straight game that Sacramento played without starting point guard Darren Collison due to a right hip flexor strain. He's not likely to play Wednesday. Ray McCallum has started the past two at the point. The team also made a minor trade before last week's deadline, sending point guard Ramon Sessions to Washington for guard Andre Miller, whom Karl knows well from his Denver days. Reserve power forward Reggie Evans has missed two straight with a knee injury and is questionable. The Kings could use his bulk against Memphis.
Keep in mind when forming your NBA pick that Sacramento is 22-30-2 against the spread and 27-27 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Memphis leads 2-0, both wins coming early in the season. On Nov. 13 in Memphis, the Grizzlies were 5.5-point favorites on NBA odds (total of 189) and won 111-110. The Kings blew a 26-point lead, with Courtney Lee winning it for the Grizzlies on a reverse layup off an inbounds lob pass at the buzzer. Sacramento was still up 17 with seven minutes left but simply collapsed. Ben McLemore missed two free throws with less than a second remaining. Memphis led just twice all game, with Lee's shot the second time -- the Kings protested it came after time expired but that was denied. Mike Conley led Memphis with 22 points and 11 assists. Rudy Gay had 25 points to lead the Kings, while DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 12 rebounds. On Nov. 30 in Sacramento, the Grizzlies were -4 at sportsbooks and won 97-85. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol dominated down low as the Kings were without Cousins due to a virus. Sacramento has lost nine straight overall against Memphis and five in a row at home.
NBA Free Picks: Grizzlies -7 and 'under' 199.5 points at the Greek. If Collison were playing, I might take the points. Sacramento is 1-5 ATS in its past six vs. the West. The Grizzlies are 4-1 ATS in their past five at Sacramento. The 'under' is 5-1 in the past six meetings.