The Laker watch is officially at a crisis panic maximum, as the Lake Show fell to a whopping six games below .500 as the Thunder took care of business last night at the Staples Center. It’s possible (even likely) that the postseason is going to look a little different than we are used to out West. Not only does it look like the Lakers could be sitting out the postseason, but another longtime perennial postseason player, Dallas, is on life support as well.
We will focus on the reeling Mavs with tonight’s free pick.
Memphis Grizzlies -1.5 at Dallas Mavericks (Total: 187.5)
The rumors continue to swirl in Memphis about possible trades, most notably, the potential trade of Rudy Gay. Far be it from me to presume to know more than their GM, but I am not sure why you want to tinker with the lineup right now in Memphis. The Grizz have won four in a row and six of their last eight, including wins over Denver, @ Golden State, @ Boston, and last night’s overtime thriller over the Spurs. Not only are the Grizz winning, they are beating quality teams both home and away.
Tonight they visit one of the worst slumping teams in the NBA. Conventional wisdom said the return of Dirk Nowitski would get Dallas back on track. It hasn’t worked that way. Dallas snapped their four game losing streak Thursday night with an overtime win over Sacramento, but has still lost eight of ten overall, with their only other win coming over Washington.
Dallas’s biggest problem is their terrible defense. They have allowed 99 or more points in all of their last ten games with the exception of the win over the Wizards. They have allowed an average of 107 points a night over their last ten games. That is easily the worst in NBA over that span. I expect Memphis to exploit that advantage tonight, despite being fresh off the draining and emotional win over San Antonio.
I don’t see Dallas’s weak interior defense of Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitski having any prayer of slowing down the best front court in the NBA; Memphis’s trio of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and combo-forward Rudy Gay. Add in the defensive toughness of Mike Conley and Tony Allen, and it won’t just be Dallas’s defense that struggle – their offense is in for a tough night as well. Memphis holds opponents to just 89.3 points per game (and possesses one the best ppg differentials in the NBA at +6.2).
I know my general rule is to stay away from road teams on the back end of consecutive nights played, but the Grizzlies are hot, motivated by trade rumors (you can tell from Tony Allen’s postgame interview just how much the like Rudy Gay and WANT this team to remain intact), and are just simply so much better than Dallas to be scared away. Plus the line is favorable at laying just a point and a half.
Free Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -1.5