The Memphis Grizzlies have remade their roster just before the All-Star break, which is a discouraging sign for a team that started the season so well in November and December. They needed the future cap flexibility but may have sacrificed potential short term success. They currently hold the fourth position in the Western Conference standings, but only three games seperate them and eight place Houston.
The NBA odds opened with Memphis listed as a small +1.5 dog. Early betting action has since caused that line to flip, as the Grizzlies now find themselves favored by the same 1.5 points. The opening total of 180.5 has alse seem slight movement, and can be found at 181 depending on where you shop.
Are the new look Grizzlies worthy of their price tag, or should we turn to the Hawks tonight with our NBA picks?
The Grizzlies can win because…
Their defense is likely to be better this time around and because the Hawks have lost the consistency that marked the first two months of the season. Memphis and Atlanta are both teams that played their best basketball of the season in November and December. The Grizzlies have struggled of late but the Hawks have not been any better, giving Memphis the belief that it won't be outgunned or underequipped in this contest. The Grizzlies have to realize that if they play high -level defense, they can win a slugfest against the Hawks. Atlanta wilts in the face of strong halfcourt defense, having scored an average of under 70 points in two recent losses to the Chicago Bulls. The Hawks scored under 60 points in one of those losses to Chicago, one of the better defensive teams in the NBA.
Memphis traded Rudy Gay to Toronto and acquired Tayshaun Prince from Detroit so that it could become a much better defensive team. Gay was an offense-only player who did not spill his guts at the defensive end of the floor. Prince is a much more reliable defender whose long reach can get into passing lanes and make it much harder for opponents to run halfcourt sets.
Atlanta, over the past several seasons and not just this one, has been a notoriously bad halfcourt team at the offensive end of the floor. The Hawks lack the patience and shot selection that characterize more effective offenses. Memphis certainly has the defensive components that can grind Atlanta's offense to a complete halt.
The Hawks can win because…
They're playing at home and are facing an opponent that is in the midst of a difficult transition. The Grizzlies had to be very displeased with their situation – and with Rudy Gay – in order to part with his explosive athleticism and considerable scoring capability. Memphis is so strong in the paint with Marc Gasol at center and Zach Randolph at the power forward spot, which makes the Gay trade that much more alarming for the Grizzlies, who just haven't been able to get the kind of performances out of their wings and their backcourt that they would like.
Memphis knows that it will take time for this readjusted lineup to gel on the court. Prince is a veteran but he will still need time to mesh with his teammates. The fact that Memphis pulled the trigger on this trade before the All-Star break strongly suggests that the Grizzlies aren't expecting much from the next two weeks. They are merely hoping that Prince can find and identify his role on the club by the time the All-Star Game arrives. Memphis hopes that the team can make a push beginning after the break. Right now, though, the Grizzlies are in an uncomfortable in-between place, one which makes it hard to trust them from a betting standpoint. It is as though Memphis is acknowledging its limitations while trying to play a "long game" aimed at being better in April, but not necessarily right now.
Outlook & NBA Basketball Betting Prediction:
Memphis is scrambling to remake itself. The Grizzlies are not where they need to be on defense, and since Prince is still new to the roster, Memphis probably won't be able to play well enough to win on the road.NBA Basketball Pick: Hawks +2