It's quite simply the best NBA matchup of the season thus far when Golden State puts its 16-game winning streak on the line at Memphis with NBA odds at a pick'em & a total of 202 points.
72 Wins Pipe Dream
Let's be clear here: the 21-2 Warriors aren't going to break the NBA record of 72 wins set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Not happening. Even Warriors coach Steve Kerr, a member of that club, admitted as much. "Oh God, no. No!" Kerr said this week when asked if Golden State could win 72. If you are wondering, that Bulls team started 23-2 before losing its third game (at Indiana the day after Christmas). Kerr of course is a rookie coach and the only first-year coach with a longer winning streak than Kerr is Red Auerbach, who won 17 straight in one stretch with the Washington Capitols in 1946-47.
The Warriors aren't even the Western Conference favorites at sportsbooks. They are +187 second-favorites behind San Antonio (+500) at William Hill. The Warriors are scary hot, however, as that 16-game run is easily the best in franchise history. It nearly ended at 15 on Sunday night in New Orleans in the second of a back-to-back for the Warriors. They escaped 128-122 in overtime against a Pelicans team missing its best player, Anthony Davis. Steph Curry had eight of his game-high 34 points in the OT. Klay Thompson added 29 as Golden State won its 10th straight on the road. The Warriors were down eight points with about four minutes remaining in regulation. Golden State is the ninth team in league history to win at least 21 of its first 23 games and first since 2008-09 Celtics. Four of the previous eight won the NBA title, including those 1995-96 Bulls.
What's even more amazing about this run is that Golden State has played all but one game this season without former All-Star power forward David Lee. He appears close to returning from his hamstring injury but won't Tuesday. The team really doesn't need him because Draymond Green is playing terrific in Lee's spot. Golden State beat the Pelicans without its top defensive player, center Andrew Bogut. He won't play here, either, and that's going to be a big loss against a Memphis team that is very strong in the frontcourt. Bogut has missed three straight games with right knee tendinitis. The Aussie is averaging 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Festus Ezeli likely starts again for Bogut.
The Warriors are 16-7 against the NBA betting spread and 9-14 'over/under.'
Grizzlies Tough Down Low
Memphis (19-4) is pretty darn good itself but just a +800 fifth-favorite on NBA odds to win the Western Conference for the first time. The Grizzlies, who lead the Southwest Division, bring a four-game winning streak into this one.
Sometimes you can clearly see a trap game coming and that was the case for the Grizzlies on Saturday night at Philadelphia in the second of a back-to-back. Memphis escaped 120-115 in overtime. Point guard Mike Conley hit the tying 3-pointer to send the game into OT and finished with a career-high 36 points. Memphis was down 18 points with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Conley had 16 of his 36 in the fourth.
While Conley is a fine player, the Grizzlies are perhaps the most frontcourt-oriented team in the NBA with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The Warriors, meanwhile, have the best backcourt in the NBA in Curry and Thompson. The Grizz have one of the league's best perimeter defenders in Tony Allen so he likely will be on Thompson. Allen ranks sixth in the NBA in steals per game (1.95) while playing only 26.0 minutes per contest.
Before making up your mind on this NBA pick, understand that the Grizzlies have lost just once at home this season, a 107-101 defeat to San Antonio on Dec. 5 that ended a 22-game home winning streak. Memphis is 12-11 against the spread on NBA odds and 13-9-1 'over/under.'
The Warriors and Grizzlies split four games last season, with Golden State winning the final two matchups. Before that the Warriors had lost 11 in a row in the series. Curry averaged 25.7 points in three games and Thompson 19.3 in four. Randolph played all four and averaged 20.0 points and 9.0 rebounds. Conley averaged 17.8 points and Gasol (three games) 17.7. Memphis has won nine of the last 10 meetings at FedExForum.
NBA Free Picks: Memphis and 'over.' The Grizzlies have covered five of the past seven meetings. The 'over' is 5-1 in the Grizzlies' past six overall. The 'over' is 7-3 in the Warriors' past 10 road games against teams with a winning home record.