The game of the year lived up to the billing last night, with Memphis winning an exciting game over the league’s best and hottest team, Golden State. The loss snapped the Warriors 16-game winning streak and now leaves the Thunder (remember them?) as the team in possession of the league’s longest winning streak and oh-by-the-way back in the playoff picture.
Memphis and Golden State was the league’s highlight last night. The lowlight was the sad news that Milwaukee’s prize rookie Jabari Parker is likely out for the season with a torn ACL. At the time of writing my column yesterday I was going off the same widely disseminated report everyone else was – Jabari has a sprained knee and is day-to-day. It appears the Bucks were a teensy bit overly optimistic in their early report. Here’s hoping Jabari gets healthy and back on the court and shows no worse for the wear, just like other top rookies who suffered season-ending injuries like Blake Griffin and Nerlens Noel.
Last night gave us a marquee Western Conference matchup, and tonight keeps the foot on the gas (especially if you are a Grizz player) as Memphis tries to consolidate the break against the always-lurking San Antonio Spurs. The East also has a nice game on the racket as the Hawks look to legitimize their Eastern Conference contender status with a trip to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Let’s see if we can stack on a fourth straight NBA winner tonight.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs -3 (Total: 194.5)
It was just two weeks ago that the Spurs went into the Grindhouse and did something no team this season had done or has done since; win. Tonight they get a chance to knock off the Grizzlies, who are 21-4, for a second time this season and this time the game is down home in Texas.
I love Memphis. They aren’t flashy. They aren’t laden with big name stars (though Gasol and Conley are no-doubt All-Stars and Z-Bo should get some consideration). But the same cast of characters has come back for seemingly the last ten years and this year they are even tougher and better than ever. This team was one of the best in the NBA the second half of last season once they were finally healthy. It got lost a little in the mix because of their terrible start without Gasol, but this year they are healthy and picked up exactly where they left off.
However, winning games in back-to-back nights against the Warriors and Spurs on the ROAD is a bit much to ask in the 2014-2015 NBA where those sort of things happen very, very rarely. San Antonio are still the defending champs and on the off occasions they decide to send their full army to battle, they generally emerge victorious, especially at the Alamo. I see no reason to expect Pop to rest anyone tonight. But the problem tonight isn’t rest – it is injuries. Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard will be on the pine tonight, and most nights I’d say they’d be just fine, but feeding a backup point guard to the smothering defense of Mike Conley is almost cruel.
Look for Conley and Allen to smother the smallish backup backcourt of the Spurs. Patty Mills is still on the IR as well, so it will be up to Corey Joseph and Danny Green to create offense for the Spurs tonight. Even Manu is listed as questionable, so it’s a pretty light lineup to contend with the best defensive team in the NBA.
I’m going to keep riding with the Grizzlies who despite being on a back-to-back have a lot of advantages tonight.