The NBA is certainly delivering excitement in the final week of the regular season. The Indiana vs. OKC game yesterday in Indiana was intense and well-played. It had the feel of an NBA Finals game, and could be a possible preview if things break right for both teams. The Indiana win (somewhat surprising considering their recent struggles) seems to have injected a resurgence in confidence and now they are just a win at Orlando away from reaching their long-stated goal; the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile tonight we get a near NCAA Tournament-style game with a win-or-else matchup between the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns for the final spot out West. The Grizzlies have a one game edge and can clinch a first round date with San Antonio with a win (a matchup that has even the most confident Spurs fan a little nervous… but if Memphis win TWO they move up to the #7 – so who you rooting for tonight San Antone??) If Phoenix wins, they are still alive, though Memphis has the tie-breaker and would still control their own fate. It really is heartbreaking to think Phoenix could go from their second-worst season (25 wins) ever to 49 wins and STILL miss the playoffs while the Bobcats and Hawks get to keep on playing. But that’s a very real possibility.
Can they look past the help they need and handle their business tonight?
Let’s dig into a good matchup for tonight’s free pick:
Memphis Grizzlies at Phoenix Suns -2.5 (Total: 195)
The Suns have lost consecutive games to the Spurs and Mavericks to put them in a tough spot. Complicating things has been the nagging ankle injury to Goran Dragic, who the Suns hope will be back to near full strength tonight. He will need to be, as Conley is a tough on the ball defender, and the Suns are already giving up a big advantage to Memphis on the interior.
The Suns have dropped their last two home games to Memphis, and that interior advantage is a big reason why. Memphis has been one of the best teams in the NBA since the All-Star Break – not coincidentally it also marks the return of center Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies are a unique team in that they are one of the few old school teams that relies on two post players to gerneate offense and dictate the pace and flow of the game. Yes, both Randolph and Gasol can pop outside and shoot, but this is a different look than most NBA teams show on a nightly basis. It creates a weird matchups, and either they favor you or they don’t.
With Dragic a little banged up, I’m going to lean that those advantages favor Memphis. It’s sad to say, but I think the magical Suns run sets tonight.