We came up a single point short last night, our second such tough-loss of the season, with Orlando storming back to win at home over Brooklyn 125-121. The Magic are one of the early (very early) surprises of the season at 3-1, including an impressive dominating road win at Cleveland, the 40-pooint outburst in Aaron Gordon’s return to action is a very encouraging sign for a player some likened to Blake Griffin when he was coming out of the draft three years ago. The Nets have also been fun – which if you are a Brooklyn fan is really about all you can ask for in 2017-2018, right?? At least they are scoring points and playing close games…
Elsewhere, the Pacers got an impressive and surprising 23-point road win at Minnesota, the second really odd twenty-plus point road win of the NBA season by a team not expected to contend for the playoffs, and the Clippers continued their hot start, moving to 3-0 with a blowout win over the Jazz. Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and JJ Reddick are all gone. And so far, it has been a good thing – at least on the defensive end. Would you take Patrick Beverly over Chris Paul?? Most would say no. But with an 86.6 defensive rating through three games, no one in the NBA is even CLOSE to as stout defensively as the suddenly-tough Clippers…
Today’s NBA Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies -4 at Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks enter tonight winless in four attempts and hosting one of the other surprising teams in the NBA, the 3-0 Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavericks have earned their 0-4 mark, posting the worst defensive efficiency rating in the NBA at 114.4. They are also without guard Devin Harris and Seth Curry, severely limiting their backcourt depth.
But the Mavericks played Golden State two nights ago, so OF COURSE their defensive rating stinks with such a small sample size! Fair point. But the Grizzlies have ALSO played the Dubs – and beat them – and are ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive efficiency with a 96.7. And per ESPN.com, The Grizzlies became the seventh team in NBA history to start a season 3-0 with two wins against teams that won at least 55 games the previous season, according to STATS.
I see no reason to buck some strong early season trends tonight. I’m willing to but the Grizzlies as a legit playoff team, even post Z-Bo (obviously, pending the sometimes volatile health of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley) and I am willing to buy Dallas as a bottom-five team in a sad send off to the legendary Dirk.
Four points is a fair price to swallow for a Memphis team that is GOING to defend every night who gets to face a team that so far, seems uninterested in matching that effort.
Today’s NBA Pick: MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES -4