Now that the postseason is here, are the NBA odds giving us value for Wednesday’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies?
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Wednesday, May 19, 2021 – 7:30 PM ET at FedExForum
The stakes couldn’t be more clear for the Memphis Grizzlies. After the confusion surrounding their second-to-last regular season game against the Sacramento Kings (which proved to be meaningless after all), the Grizzlies needed to beat the Golden State Warriors in the finale to claim eighth place in the Western Conference. They didn’t; as a result, Memphis finished in ninth at 38-34 SU and 42-30 ATS, setting up a must-win scenario this Wednesday when they host the No. 10 San Antonio Spurs (33-39 SU, 38-32-2 ATS) in the play-in tournament.
At least the Grizz are favored to advance. They opened at –4 on Bovada’s NBA odds board (visit our Bovada Review) and remain there at press time; the early consensus reports show 100-percent support for the home side, as well. But this is a tight NBA line, as you might expect heading into the postseason. Can we get some value out of the Under instead? This is supposed to be when they start playing defense for real, and Memphis are already one of the league’s best teams at that end of the court.
First, here’s why we’d rather avoid those NBA spreads: Both FiveThirtyEight and Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today project the Grizzlies to win by somewhere around four points. FiveThirtyEight project Memphis at –4.5; Sagarin has them at –3.55 using his eigenvector analysis. The Grizz do look better if you put more weight on their recent performance, though, so maybe a small wager on the favorites isn’t so bad.
We were all geeked up here at the home office to recommend the Under for your NBA picks, but as usual, the sharps got there first. Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review) opened this bad boy Monday morning at 225 points; they were down to 221.5 points by Monday evening. This could be a good thing, though. Sagarin’s projections have this game landing on 223.50 points, leaving us at least a smidge of theoretical betting value on the Over.
Not that we would have recommended a big bet on the total anyways. Somehow, each team ended up splitting the over/under at 36-36 this year, although they took two entirely different routes to get there. Memphis made it this far with a revamped version of Grit-N-Grind, posting the sixth-best defense in the league at 108.5 points allowed per 100 possessions. San Antonio were No. 21 overall on offense (108.6 points scored) and No. 22 on defense (110.7 points allowed), but they get a crack at the playoffs nonetheless under this year’s format.
The Spurs probably would have finished much higher had they gotten a full season from point guard Derrick White (plus-1.1 BPM). Unfortunately, White sprained his right ankle in late April and isn’t expected to return for the playoffs. San Antonio are 2-10 SU and 5-5-2 ATS since that injury, and Memphis are 7-5 SU and just 4-8 ATS over that same span, so again, where’s the value? Let’s just buy the dip on that total for a very small sum and see what happens.
NBA Pick: Over 221.5 (–108) at Heritage Sports
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.