NBA Pick: Lay the Points in Spurs-Grizzlies Opener

Jay Pryce

Sunday, April 17, 2016 11:00 AM GMT

Sunday, Apr. 17, 2016 11:00 AM GMT

The No.7 Grizzlies and No.2 Spurs clash at AT&T Center Sunday night, where San Antonio is 40-1 this season. Can Memphis cover a double-digit spread? Read our betting analysis for a profitable NBA Pick.

Memphis Grizzlies (42-40 SU, 42-39-1 ATS)
The Grizz didn't play too ferociously to close out the season. Already without leading scorer Marc Gasol since February (foot), the team's second points-getter point Mike Conley went down with a bum Achilles in early March. With both out of the starting five, Memphis stumbled to the playoffs, going 5-15 SU (10-10 ATS) in its final 20 games. What's worse, the team loss by an average scoring margin of 8.0 points during the stretch; prior to this, it maintained a -0.4 differential.

Veteran Zach Randolph and the mercurial Lance Stephenson have been asked to do more on offense with the two team leaders out. Stephenson, more of a defensive force in his career, is integral to the spread when stepping up his scoring production. Efficiency is the key. Putting up 12.8 shots a night since Conley went down, when the journeyman shoots 45 percent or better, Memphis is beating the closing number by 5.3 points a night, going 6-2 ATS. When he shoots poorer, it is 3-7 ATS, losing out by -3.5 points to the spread. In his career, Stephenson is 28 for 69 from the field (40.6 percent) versus the Spurs.

If the Grizz can pull off a miracle, it will be because of their defense. Allowing just 101.3 points per game, they dominated the paint, yielding just 38.5 points down low a night. The unit had trouble limiting LaMarcus Aldridge, though. In three meetings, the Spurs center dropped 32, 31, and 18 points. The defense's road form is rotten too. Its allowed opponents to go over their projected team total in eight of its last 10 trips away from FedEx Forum.


 

San Antonio Spurs (67-15 SU, 43-38-1 ATS)
What more is there to say about the Spurs at AT&T Center. Going 40-1 SU, they were two games away from being the first organization in NBA history to go undefeated at home. They destroyed teams by 14.0 points per game, slightly beating the betting market as well with a 22-18-1 ATS record.

The Spurs, in fact, were one of the best betting teams in the NBA this season, going 43-38-1 ATS. They topped the league with a 2.0 points margin above the market's number. Their record could have been better had Kawhi Leonard suited up for every game. Arguably the best two-way player in the league, he sat out 10 games this season with coach Gregg Popovich's squad covering just three in his absence.

Pop's defense was the most efficient in the NBA's regular season, allowing just 99 points per 100 possessions. At home, it improved to 97.3. The unit was particularly tough against poor offenses, yielding just 89.8 points to those averaging under the century mark. The Grizzlies enter putting up 99.1 points per game. In four meetings with the Spurs, they were held under 88 points in three (82, 83, 87, 104).

 

Final Analysis
The Spurs have dominated the series overall, going 73-24 record since 1995 (40-8 in Texas). This is the most points (-15 on NBA Odds) the Spurs have laid in the playoffs since gifting 11.5 points to the Jazz and Clippers in the 2011-12 season. They covered both those spreads handily (16 and 31 points), and it's likely bettors see another blowout victory today. The Grizz will have to work hard to not only avoid a 4-0 sweep, but also to keep each matchup remotely competitive. The line bounced back and forth between 15 and 15.5 all Saturday, so we jumped on the lower number. A 20-point victory is not out of the question. Spurs -15 is the NBA Pick.

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NBA Pick: Spurs -15
Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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