The NBA took a one-day respite for Thanksgiving to allow their players a day with family and to be thankful, however we are back to a pretty full schedule tonight, highlighted by more than a few terrific matchups. Memphis takes their league-best 13-2 record to the Rose Garden to try and stop the Blazers nine-game winning streak (12-3 overall). That’s one worth staying up for on League Pass for sure.
The Spurs also have an interesting game, hosting the upstart Kings. The Spurs got some attention early for a few losses, but very quietly (go figure, “quietly” and “Spurs” paired together) they have gotten back to 10-4, a pretty awesome record, though in the ridiculous West its only good enough for 5th place in the standings. Meanwhile, you have Dallas in Toronto, the Clippers in Houston and Minnesota against the Lakers! (OK, the last one is sarcasm, but you have four awesome games tonight, so don’t be too greedy…)
Let’s get to today’s free pick…
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Today’s Free Picks:
Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trailblazers -3.5 (Total: 192.5)
Both these teams have been absolutely brilliant in 2014. Damian Lillard has made the leap into solid Top 5 point guard. Marc Gasol has continued to evolve into the best traditional center in the NBA, and both teams have played within themselves to control the tempo to the style that suits them best. The result is a ton of wins and some gaudy early-season records for a pair of team most people left out of the “who can win the West” discussion prior to the start of the season.
Portland is also a nice, tidy 11-4 ATS including 7-2 at home. That all seems to bode well in their favor, but sometimes a team just plain doesn’t match up well against an opponent. That seems to be the case with the Blazers facing the Grizz. Yes, they snapped their losing streak last March in Portland, but prior to that they had lost five straight games to the Grizzlies, including three at home and by an average margin of 12.5.
It makes some sense that a team that depends so heavily on their point guard and power forward would struggle with Mike Conley and the Memphis frontcourt. I’d draft Lillard over Conley, but on the defensive end of the court, that’s a big edge for Memphis. This has the potential to be a great game tonight, and I wouldn’t be stunned if Portland played well at home, but if I can get the team with a 13-2 record, a 3.5 point cushion AND a matchup edge, I’ll roll the dice. Gimme the Grizz tonight on the road.