The powerful 1-2 presence down low of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph has the Memphis Grizzlies sitting firmly as the No. 2-seed in the NBA’s Western Conference, but can this team really make a run deep into the playoffs? History says no, but with 12/1 odds to win the West, is a pick on The Grizz worth a shot? Let’s break it all down.
The Memphis Grizzlies (50-21, 99.1 PF-95.2 PA) look like they could be the team to watch when the NBA Playoffs tip off on Saturday, April 18, and Head Coach Dave Joerger, his staff and the entire organization have done a very nice job assembling a solid NBA product in the Volunteer State, but is this really the year to betting you good, hard-earned money on a team whose greatest feat to date has been to reach the Western Conference Finals? The best price (highest odds) which NBA odds makers currently have showing on the Oddschecker screen for the Grizzlies to win the NBA Finals is priced at 12/1 (bet365), while, strangely enough my friend, the current odds (highest available) for Memphis to simply win the Western Conference are also priced at 12/1 (Boylesports) at one sportsbook. Which brings up the obvious question: If you really think the Memphis Grizzlies are that good this season, why on Erf would you bet the Grizzlies at 12/1 to win the NBA Finals when you can get them, and bet them (also), at 12/1 to win the Western Conference? And if any odds I have seen truly reveal how strong the NBA’s Western Conference really is in the bigger context of the entire league and its rich history, this is it. A real Odds oddity. For now at least. And fellow West Heavies like the conference-leading Golden State Warriors (58-13, Highest Odds: +350 to win West, Boylesports; +375 to win NBA Finals, Winner) and the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs (44-26; +650 to win West, Boylesports; +700 (7/1) to win NBA Championship, Paddy Power) have the strange odds reality going on too right now, as you can see. Weird.
This evening (Wednesday), the Grizzlies (6-4 L10) will be taking a 3-game winning streak into action when they host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (46-26)—winners of 3 straight themselves—at the FedExForum in Memphis (NBA League Pass—Team 6, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT; Odds: Grizzlies -1, 194½, Pinnacle). As it looks, with only 10 games left on their schedule after tonight, and a 2½-game lead over the No. 3-seed Houston Rockets (47-23), Memphis will most likely end up as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, meaning they’ll draw the No. 7 seed, which could realistically be any one of the five (current) No.’s 3-7 seeds (Rockets, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Spurs, Mavericks), who are all now sitting within just 3½ games of each other as we head into action tonight and down that proverbial Home stretch. Giddyup, bwah. We have defeated that evil Daylight Saving Time Monster, for now at least. Enjoy the Long Days and Papa Sun.
Possible Starting Five
C—Marc Gasol (17.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.70 bpg)
PF—Zach Randolph (16.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg)
SF—Tony Allen (8.7 ppg, 4.4 apg)
SG—Courtney Lee (10.3)
PG—Mike Conley (16.2 ppg, 5.3 apg)
Bench, Roster Depth
C—Kosta Koufos (5.0 ppg)
PF-Jon Leuer (4.8 ppg)
SF—Jeff Green (12.8 ppg)
SG—Vince Carter (6.1 ppg)
PG—Beno Udrih (7.4 ppg)
PF—Jarnell Stokes (2.7 ppg)
PF—JaMychal Green (2.5 ppg)
SG—Nick Calathes (4.3 ppg)
SG—Jordan Adams (2.4 ppg)
PG—Russ Smith (2.3 ppg)
Injuries, Coaching, Intangibles (Potential Playoff Paths)
Compared to the majority of the 21—that’s right—21 NBA teams who are already headed for the NBA Playoffs or still in contention for a postseason spot, the Grizzlies (34-25-2 ATS, 16-16-2 ATS Home, 18-18 ATS Away) are extremely healthy, with the lone Blip on the Hurts Radar currently (Wednesday morning) being starting SG Courtney Lee’s hand which had him sitting on Monday in Memphis’s win over the lowly Knicks. As far as the coaching goes, Dave Joerger (100-53 as Grizzlies Head Coach) is in his second season at the helm in Memphis, and last year the 7th-seeded Grizzlies lost to the 2nd-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 1 of the Western Conference playoffs. So, despite the decent record and sexy spot in the standings today, Joerger just doesn’t have even close to the amount of valuable experience which other head coaches in the Western Conference like Gregg Popovich (Spurs), Rick Carlisle (Mavericks) and Scott Brooks (Thunder) do. And that is one of the things that could catch up with this team, which has in its Collective Mind that it at least needs to get to the Western Conference Finals again and redeem themselves for their loss two seasons ago to Time Duncan and San Antonio. Much easier thought than done especially in the Wild, Wild West where a team as talented as the Thunder may be the No. 8 seed. Pressure.
And, as far as any future Potential Playoff Matchups—if the NBA Playoffs were to start tonight (Wednesday)—the Grizzlies would be that aforementioned and impressive No. 2 seed, but who they would play is still a Big Mystery with the Houston Rockets (47-23), Portland Trail Blazers (44-25), Los Angeles Clippers (46-25), defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs (44-26) and Dallas Mavericks (45-27)—teams exactly a collective 100 games above the .500 mark—all in the hunt. And the Truth is that all five of these potential teams that The Griz may face in the opening round won’t be scared of them at all, and will consider themselves the favorites in any potential series. To me, the best opponent the Memphis Grizzlies could hope for in Round 1 would be the Dallas Mavericks, whom the Grizzlies went 4-0 SU and 4-0 ATS against in the Regular Season, winning by 9, 19, 8 and 11. Remember that if they meet, brother.
The Grizzlies appear to be are the most talented under-the-radar team out there right now for bettors to contemplate making some moves and potential NBA picks on, but it’s important to remember where the Memphis Grizzlies call home (Tennessee), the team’s and fan’s expectations of winning it all (none really) and the number of times the Grizzlies have even made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals in their existence (1). Uno. One. Is it getting better, or do you feel the same? Would it make it easier on you now if I told you that it actually does seem to matter in some sense—both for the actual playing of the sport(s) and for gambling purposes—that certain Regions/States/Cities have a certain Confidences and Expectations to win sports championships and/or conferences? Ask Boston and New England. And then ask Cleveland. The applicable reality here is that the state of Tennessee only has three professional teams right now—the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the NHL’s Nashville Predators and these (NBA’s) Memphis Grizzlies. And, the Titans lost in their only Super Bowl appearance, the Predators have never made it to a Stanley Cup, and the farthest the Grizzlies have gone is that aforementioned Western Conference Finals loss to the Spurs two seasons back (2012/2013). So, they really don’t expect to win professional sports championships in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Bubba, because the extent of their Positive Reinforcement to date has been their Titans losing the hard way to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000. The franchise did win back-to-back NFL championships back in 1960 and 1961 when the team was still called the Houston Oilers. But enough pigskin, man. We heave leather to chew, hombre. Have you no ethics?
With a potential nightmare Playoff Path like the Spurs—Rockets—Warriors—Cavaliers or maybe the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Finals (June 6), between them and a championship, the Grizzlies will have to totally be peaking and getting scoring from everyone, keep Gasol, Randolph and Conley all healthy and have them producing, and, get some Luck along the way. And Luck matters. Trust me. Some of the keys for Memphis will be PG Conley’s ability to lead and distribute against top teams, and, receive consistent play and contributions from role guys like Κ?στας" Κουφ?ς (Kosta Koufos), Jeff Green, Carter and Udrih. The Grizzlies are a very talented and underrated team—as their impressive record against their own muscular Western Conference (31-13) shows—who are very strong defensively (#2 in NBA Points Allowed, 95.2 ppg), and we all know that old adage that Defense wins Championships. (And Lemon Juice removes stains, Skelly.) But one thing that really intrigued me when researching and analyzing all this stuff is how a team with All-Star Gasol and Randolph (10.9 rpg) could only be ranked 20th in the NBA in Rebounding (42.7). Desire.
If the Grizzlies (To Win Southwest Division, -275, BetVictor) get hot and can make it past the early stages of the postseason, they may be able shock the world. But I still doubt it. Should Memphis make it to the NBA Finals however, there are some very interesting (and high) odds for potential opponents in The Bigger Dance, including the Cavaliers (Name the Finalists: Cavaliers-Grizzlies 14/1, Sky Bet), the Hawks (Hawks-Grizzlies 40/1, Sky Bet) and maybe the Raptors (Raptors-Grizzlies 100/1, Sky Bet) in a long-shot NBA championship series which sportsbook operators, network executives and the majority of NBA fans would absolutely detest. Probably. Very likely, Yes, they’d absolutely hate it. On to the next one...
PREDICTED PLAYOFF DESTINY: Grizzlies eliminated by Spurs in Round 1 or 2
RELATED NBA PICK: Grizzlies to Win Southwest Division -275 (BetVictor)