The San Antonio Spurs were the correct NBA pick when they met the Memphis Grizzlies in last year’s opening round. Has anything changed for this year’s playoffs?
The 2016-17 NBA regular season isn’t quite done yet, but we already know the participants in two of the eight opening-round playoff series – both from the Western Conference. The No. 2 San Antonio Spurs and No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies were first to punch their tickets; the No. 3 Houston Rockets are also locked in versus the No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder.
We’re targeting that Spurs-Grizzlies series here at the home office. It’s a rematch of their 2016 first-round tilt, same seeds and everything. Well, almost everything: Tim Duncan won’t be there for the Spurs, and there’s been plenty of roster turnover on the Memphis side. That should give the Grizz at least some betting value on the NBA odds board after they were, unceremoniously swept, aside last year.
Series prices have yet to be published for the 2017 NBA playoffs as we go to press, so we’re talking speculatively at the moment, but it’s fairly safe to say that Memphis (43-37 SU, 41-39 ATS) will be the underdogs again. And using point differentials as a rough estimate, it looks like the Spurs (61-18 SU, 41-37-1 ATS) are nearly seven points better than the Grizzlies per game. That would make something like San Antonio –9.5 a reasonable line for Game 1 at home.
That’s not the way things shook out last year, though. The Grizz went into their series with a ton of injuries, most notably to point guard Mike Conley, who missed the postseason with an injured left foot, and center Marc Gasol, who had a broken right foot. Memphis was +17 in the opening game, and double-digit dogs throughout the series. They went 1-3 ATS despite all those points.
Aside from Chandler Parsons, the Grizzlies are healthy this year, and they’ve kept up with preseason expectations, nearly matching their regular-season win total of 43.5. The hoop nerds at Basketball Reference have San Antonio (+7.51 SRS) “just” over six points better than Memphis (+1.28 SRS) per game according to their Simple Rating System, so again, there might be some value with the Grizz for your NBA picks on a single-game basis. For the series? Let’s see how the prices come out before we start plucking that chicken.