The Memphis Grizzlies are a rising commodity on the NBA betting charts, but is it worth avoiding the Portland Trail Blazers and their profitable OVER record this Tuesday?
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 27 inclusive:
I have been known to outthink myself every once in a while. However, this past Sunday wasn’t one of those occasions. Or was it? Hmmm… okay, I kid. So I bailed on following the Golden State Warriors in their game against the Portland Trail Blazers (33-12 SU, 25-20 ATS), who fell to 7-14 ATS in their last 21 games with a 103-88 loss in Oakland. I preferred the OVER, which was 29-14-1 for the Blazers going into Sunday’s matchup. They went UNDER 216 instead.
I’m okay with that. Golden State hasn’t performed very well against the basketball lines this year, and even less so recently. But we’ve got a different scenario on tap when the Memphis Grizzlies (22-20 SU, 19-22-1 ATS) visit the former Rose Garden on Tuesday. The Grizzlies are coming off a home-and-home sweep of the Houston Rockets, improving to 11-5 ATS since adding your new favorite player and mine, James Johnson (19.6 PER). This might be a good spot to fade the Blazers as 7-point favorites on NBA odds board, rather than take the OVER on the early total of 199. Or is it? Hmmm…
Burn that Gasoline
Spoiler alert: I think it is. The Grizzlies have gone UNDER in each of their last six games, which just happens to coincide with the return of 7-foot-1 center Marc Gasol (17.6 PER), the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year. It helps that Gasol is coming off a sprained MCL and has yet to rediscover his offensive touch:
Gasol in November (12 games): 16.2 points per game, .458 FG%, 113 ORtg
Gasol in January (6 games): 9.5 points per game, .388 FG%, 95 ORtg
Gasol’s minutes per game are also down from 34.4 in November to 26.8 since his return, and his field-goal attempts are down from 12.8 to 8.2. This is part of the reason why Memphis went 1-3 ATS in Gasol’s first four games back in action. But it didn’t stop the Grizzlies from taking care of business against a Houston team that has been dealing with injuries on the frontline.
The Trail Has Gone Cold
The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, are on a 1-4 ATS slide that started with a 126-113 loss to those same Rockets (–2 at home). And wouldn’t you know it, the UNDER is 3-1-1 during this stretch. Savvy bettors have already taken notice of Portland’s No. 23 rank on the defensive efficiency charts – tied with the Detroit Pistons at 105.5 points allowed per 100 possessions. When the Blazers don’t hit their shots at the other end, they’re in trouble.
Which is what happened Sunday. LaMarcus Aldridge (23.2 PER) shot 2-for-14. Damian Lillard (19.0 PER) was 5-for-16, and Wesley Matthews (17.5 PER) was 5-for-14. As a team, the Blazers sank just six of their 21 3-pointers, or 28.6 percent. That’s down from 38.8 percent on the season, and a deadly drop-off for a team that ranks second in the league in trey attempts.
Sunday might have been a particularly bad game for Portland’s offense, but it wasn’t a complete anomaly. The Blazers are only shooting 36.5 percent from long distance this month, compared to 38.0 percent in December and 42.3 percent in November. Sing along with me, folks: regression to the mean. I hate to pick on Matthews (.417 3P%), but there was virtually no way he was going to keep hitting 51.7 percent of his 3-pointers like he did in November. He’s shot 37.4 percent since then. At some point, the NBA odds will have to meet the new normal. Same as the old normal.
Special Update: Portland moved to –5 in early betting with a total of 197.5.NBA Pick: Take the Grizzlies +6 at Island