Now that the football season has come to an (anti-climactic) conclusion, the sporting world can now turn its undivided attention to hoops. So for those of you just joining us for NBA action, Welcome! New commissioner Adam Silver will have a nice full slate of action to welcome him to the job tonight, including a couple of fantastic marquee matchups between some of the hottest teams in the league.
We’re down to abour eight weeks until the “real season” begins, so games are starting to take on a little added weight, especially in the West where Phoenix and Golden State have begun to put a cushion between themselves and Denver and Minnesota, who appear to be on the outside of the picture.
One team that has surged back into the mix, and is actually now slightly ahead of Dallas for the 8th and final spot are the Memphis Grizzlies. They are the hottest team in the NBA… well, with the exception of the scorching Thunder who they face tonight on NBA TV.
Let’s dig into a fantastic matchup.
Today’s Free Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder -8 (Total: 190)
Kevin Durant has been an unstoppable offensive force the last month. The brilliant Durant is now averaging 31.1 ppg, more than four full points more than anyone in the league, and he is doing it on 52% shooting, second only to Lebron James among perimeter players in the Top 100 in scoring. (The lowest is Brandon Jennings at 37% – if you need any more reason why Detroit will end up missing the playoffs and getting passed by the Knicks).
Durant has been unstoppable. But the Grizzlies have been impenetrable. They have won 11 of 12 and are allowing less than 87 ppg in that stretch, thanks to a strong defense anchored by the return of Marc Gasol. It will be a challenge tonight with Mike Conley, who is expected to miss his second straight game with an injury. However, the Thunder are of course missing Russell Westbrook, so perhaps the absence will be a little easier to deal with. If they were missing either of their interior players, I’d be much more concerned.
The Thunder recently had their ten game winning streak snapped by a blowout loss to the Wizards, but aside from that, they’ve been brilliant. Memphis has won six in a row and 11 of 12 overall including a win against the Thunder and two against Houston. I’m not sure they win again tonight, but they sure are getting a TON of points. Keep in mind Memphis blasted OKC last year in the Conference Semis with almost the exact same lineups; no Westbrook (of course Conley was healthy). The interior of the Grizz gives OKC trouble, and the defense of Tony Allen is about as good as you can ask for hounding Durant and making him work.
I’ll take the Grizz getting a bundle of points tonight.