Lock of Season: Grizzlies Will Not Lose by 61 Again Saturday vs. Lakers

Matthew Jordan

Friday, March 23, 2018 3:53 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 23, 2018 3:53 PM UTC

The Memphis Grizzlies haven’t had much to celebrate this season, but a home win Saturday night gives them the season series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Yay?

LA Lakers (31-40, 37-34 ATS) at Memphis (19-53, 30-40-2 ATS)Free NBA Pick: LakersBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Enjoy Saturday’s Elite Eight action in the NCAA Tournament because other than Pelicans-Rockets, which my cohort Swinging Johnson will preview here at SBR, there’s not any great matchups on the six-game NBA slate. But you can bet on Lakers-Grizzlies, so here we are! It’s an 8 p.m. ET tip from Memphis in the final meeting of the season between two teams playing out the string.

Largely because of injuries, the Grizzlies royally suck, but they can win the season series here as they lead the Lakers 2-1. Memphis also has won seven straight in the series at home. The most recent meeting was at FedEx Forum on Jan. 15 and the Grizzlies won 123-114 – that was the start of a three-game winning streak. Memphis has won just three times total since. Eight Grizzlies scored in double figures in that game and they shot 51 percent from the field (see below video for highlights).

Tyreke Evans leads Memphis in averaging 24.3 points vs. L.A. this season along with 7.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds. He has played in all three, as has Marc Gasol (14.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg). Mike Conley played in just the first; his early injury torpedoed this entire season. Brandon Ingram has played in two of three and leads L.A. in putting up 21.5 ppg in the series. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is at 19.3 ppg in the three. Lonzo Ball has played once vs. Memphis.

The home team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.

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Grizzlies Aren’t Even Trying These Days

It’s quite a challenge handicapping any Grizzlies games because they are blatantly tanking to try and “beat” Phoenix for the NBA’s worst record and most ping-pong balls in this summer’s draft lottery. (Those teams are done playing, with the Suns winning three of four. That could be a big tiebreaker.) Thus, the Grizzlies often rest their two best healthy players these days, Gasol and Evans, without warning. Amazingly, the Grizz are 0-20 without Evans this year.

Memphis was embarrassed 140-79 Thursday in Charlotte – Gasol was a DNP-CD – and it’s not like the Hornets are very good. Charlotte led by 55 points after three quarters, tying the NBA single-game record in the shot-clock era (Timberwolves vs. Bulls on Nov. 8, 2001). The 61-point win was the sixth-largest margin of victory overall. It was historic in another way as the Grizzlies became the only team in the NBA without a road win over an Eastern Conference team this season at 0-15. The last Western Conference teams to play an 82‐game season and go winless on the road against the East were the 1988‐89 Clippers, Spurs and Heat, who all went 0‐12. Memphis, then, is the first to do so in the current 30-team configuration.

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The Hornets became the 6th team with a 60-point win in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/UXCVactSWg

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2018
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The Lakers have no reason to tank because their first-round pick is going to either Philadelphia (most likely scenario) or Boston. The goal of the rest of this season is to see what the kids like Ingram, Ball, Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma have as well as whether to keep veterans such as Isaiah Thomas or Brook Lopez. Those latter two are free agents and probably not in the plans, but I could see L.A. re-signing Thomas to a one-year prove-it deal if the Lakers don’t land a big-ticket free agent such as Paul George this summer.

Due to a groin injury, Ingram missed his 10th straight game Thursday, a 128-125 loss in New Orleans. Four of the Lakers’ five starters scored more than 20 points in the loss as Caldwell-Pope had 28, Lopez 23, Randle 23 and Kuzma 22. It was the first time four Lakers starters scored at least 20 since Jan. 21, 1991. Ingram isn’t likely to play Saturday.

So which way to lean here? Memphis has some pride, I guess, and should play much better after Thursday’s JV performance. However, the Lakers have far superior talent, even without Ingram. L.A. has covered 10 of its past 14 vs. teams with a losing record, while the Grizz are 2-6 ATS in their past eight at home. Take the Lakers for a Saturday NBA pick.

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