NBA Picks: Lakers Face Improving Grizzlies Defense & Total Stays Low

Mark Lathrop

Sunday, December 27, 2015 12:30 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 12:30 PM UTC

Our NBA odds analyst believes the offensive woes between these two teams will continue tonight, giving the best value to a totals play for one of your Sunday NBA picks.

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Free NBA Pick: Under 198
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Lakers vs. Grizzlies
Two offensively challenged teams meet on Sunday as the 5-25 Los Angeles Lakers visit the 16-15 Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis. Memphis will be coming off of a relatively close road game in Charlotte on Saturday night, while the Lakers will be coming cross country after their Christmas matchup with the Clippers. Early opening NBA odds have the Grizzlies favored by 11.5 points, with the O/U total currently at 198.

As I write this from deep within Montana, a place with actual grizzly bears, I still get a chuckle out of a team in Memphis being called the “Grizzlies”. I guess it plausible though, unlike the deep rooted jazz scene in Salt Lake City. Did I mention that the lakes in Los Angeles are covered in black plastic balls so all of the water doesn’t evaporate out of them?


L.A. Lakers
The Lakers were ATS winners on Christmas against their cross-town rival Clippers on Christmas, using a 27-9 4th quarter surge to only lose by ten points, covering the 13-point spread. In that game, it was the Lakers bench players that had the most impact and plus minutes, overcoming a poor 12-point performance from Kobe Bryant. Bench players Nick Young (+7), Brandon Bass (+8), and Marcelo Huertas (+18) were the only Lakers to log plus minutes in the game. The game also went well under the listed total of 207, with the Lakers needing that 27-point fourth quarter performance just to break 80 points.

The Lakers offensive woes are not new to this game, as they hold the 3rd worst scoring mark in the NBA with 96.2 points per game. They also are dead last in shooting percentage at 41.2%. This makes one wonder why the O/U total is as high as it is, until we take into account that the Lakers give up the most points in the NBA per game at 107.2.


Memphis Grizzlies
Before Memphis continues their road trip in Charlotte, they played a short-handed Wizard team on December 23rd and lost 100-91 in Washington. At 16-15, Memphis is still in the playoff picture in the Western Conference, and the fact that they have played the fifth hardest schedule in the NBA to date has to give Grizzly fans some hope as the schedule softens up. They’ve recently switched to a smaller-go-faster starting lineup, which has had some positive effects in offensive and defensive efficiency.

Memphis’s offensive deficiencies have a few specific reasons, one of them being the awful perimeter shooting of 3-point threat, Courtney Lee. Lee’s 3-point completion percentage peaked in 2013-14 in Boston, with a fantastic season long rate of 44.2%. Last year after moving to Memphis, he continued his success while pouring in threes at a 40.2% clip. This year, Lee is missing threes at such a pace that he is in his head a bit, and has been hesitant to take open shots. His 31.3% 3-point conversion rate this year is the worst mark in his career.


The Sharp Pick
With Memphis laying a bunch of chalk while tinkering with their starting lineup, I don’t like trusting the Grizzlies to cover that number. For that reason, I wouldn’t avoid backing the Lakers in this one with the extra day of rest that they will have. However, I believe the greatest value in this line is with the Under. This line likely drops before tip-off, but I’d take the under in this game all the way down to 195. The Lakers won’t score more than 95 points against the Grizzlies, so take Under 198 at BetOnline as one of your Sunday NBA picks

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