Brooklyn is favored over the Grizzlies by just 1.5 points at home
The Nets managed to pull-off an upset win last time out as they beat the Celtics in Boston 129-120 in overtime. Caris LeVert was the player of the game as he recorded a career-high 51 points, including 37 points in the fourth quarter and overtime! LeVert finished the game 17-26 for a shooting percentage of 65.4%. The Nets managed to overcome a 21-point deficit in the second half to steal the win on the road. The victory helped Brooklyn snap a four-game losing streak and improve their record to 27-33 on the season. The Nets will be hoping for the same result tonight as they get set to take on the streaky Memphis Grizzlies.
This matchup will mark the end of the season series between the Grizzlies and the Nets. The only other game of the series was previously decided in overtime. It was Jae Crowder who hit a game-winning three pointer as time expired in OT to clinch the 134-133 victory for the Grizzlies in Memphis. Kyrie Irving went 11-27 from the field and led all players in the game with 37 points. Rookie sensation Ja Morant also had an excellent outing, as he finished the game with 30 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. I’m concerned that Brooklyn will not be able to keep up with Memphis’ scoring capabilities without Kyrie Irving, so I could see the Grizzlies coming out on top when all is said and done.
As things stand, the Grizzlies are the only potential playoff team in the Western Conference that currently has a losing record. At 30-31, the Grizzlies are hovering right around the .500 mark but have not been all that impressive in their recent outings. Memphis got off to a shaky start to begin the season. On December 7th, the Grizzlies had an abysmal 6-16 record. They have been trying to claw their way back into the playoff hunt and have managed to do a good job so far. The Grizzlies are 24-15 over their last 39 games and look like a potentially dangerous team when the postseason rolls around. They did manage to finally make it above .500 when their record reached 28-26 back on February 12th, but the time off leading up to the all-star break certainly hurt Memphis’ playoff push. The Grizzlies lost five straight games and are just 2-5 in their last seven match-ups. Right now though, Memphis is looking to build on a promising two-game win streak in which they beat the Lakers and the Hawks.
Meanwhile, the Nets are in a similar position as Memphis. They are currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race despite having a losing record. Not to mention, the Magic are breathing down Brooklyn’s neck for the seventh spot in the East as they trail the Nets by just half a game. Brooklyn’s victory over the Celtics was incredibly important in the tight race for a position in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Magic will have a tougher game tonight as they go up against the Miami Heat, so the Nets will need to take advantage of a middle-of-the-road Memphis team.
Spencer Dinwiddie is still Brooklyn’s top scorer with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup. He is averaging 20.8 points per game but was held to just 16 points in the Nets’ first game against the Grizzlies. I am confident he will have a better outing tonight, but I think Dinwiddie will need to have at least 35 points if Brooklyn wants to win this game. Furthermore, Caris LeVert will have to once again play lights out. It is unrealistic to think LeVert will be able to replicate his 50+ point performance again tonight, but he will need to have at least 20 points for Brooklyn to stay competitive in this one.
I am just worried that the Nets will have to have too many things go right for them to end up with the win. The Grizzlies offense is slightly better than Brooklyn’s, but the Nets do have an edge over Memphis on defense. The difference is that the Grizzlies are efficient on offense, making 47% of their field goals this year which is the sixth highest mark in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Nets are just 26th in field goal percentage this season. The offensive efficiency will be the deciding factor in tonight’s game, and I have more faith in Memphis’ offense. I think the Grizzlies will win this one outright.