Memphis Grizzlies (10-23) at Phoenix Suns (12-23)
After a short break for the holidays, I am back at it, picking NBA winners. The winning streak now sits at three straight after backing the Raptors at home against Philly before the holiday break. The slate of Christmas Day games was an exciting one with lots of controversy, Kevin Durant I am looking at you, and a couple of big-time upsets.
The Christmas Day schedule has become a great tradition and is a fantastic showcase for the NBA’s best teams, this year did not disappoint. The NBA gets back to the dog days of December today with eight games on the schedule. I will be focusing on a matchup of two struggling teams, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Phoenix Suns.
The Memphis Grizzlies travel to Phoenix after taking Christmas off, to face the Suns. Memphis comes in with just ten wins on the season, one of the lowest totals in the league, and has lost eight out of their last ten games.
The Suns aren’t much better at just 12-23 on the year, but have some reason to be optimistic as Devin Booker is expected to be back on the floor tonight. The Grizzlies will be -1-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 205 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Phoenix Suns aren’t a great team, but they do have a great player, in Devin Booker. Booker has been out since he injured his groin following the December 5th game against Toronto. The Suns have struggled without their star, going just 3-6 during that stretch. Booker is expected to take the court for the first time in three weeks tonight, and the Suns are ready to have their leader back.
Booker is averaging 24 points, 4 assists, and 4.5 boards a game on the season. He has shown flashes of greatness at times this year, including exploding for 46 points against the Philadelphia 76ers just before getting injured. This team isn’t the same without him, and it’s great to see him back on the floor. He may be somewhat limited tonight, but I know the Suns eased him back very slowly from this injury, so I doubt he would be even playing if he wasn’t completely ready, so that shouldn’t be a major concern.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a mess this year. They are amongst the lowest scoring teams in the league and struggle to score both inside and from beyond the arc. The team is built with a bunch of mismatched parts that don’t fit together and they don’t have any type of young core to build for the future. Marc Gasol will get traded to a contender before the deadline, and Tyreke Evans and Mike Conley are getting older every day.
Rookie guard Dillon Brooks has looked decent in small doses but has struggled to stay consistent. It really is a sad state of affairs in Memphis, and this team is multiple seasons away from being competitive once again.
I expect Gasol to be traded and possibly even Evans, Conley, or Chandler Parsons as well. There really isn’t any reason to hold onto those assets as, by the time the Grizzlies are able to rebuild around them, they will be too old to be part of the rotation.
These two teams matched up last week in Phoenix. It is a carbon copy of this game. And the Suns won at home, 97-95. That was without Devin Booker on the court for Phoenix. One has to wonder what has changed for Memphis that they are now road favorites with the addition of such a game-changing player like Booker, just a couple of days later?
And to be completely honest I am blown away that Memphis is a favorite on the road against any team at this point, they have ten wins on the season, and you want to back them on the road, laying points? No thank you.
I am going to chalk this line up as a mystery. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. The Suns aren’t a great team, but with their star player returning after a long layoff I expect them to get up for this one and play with high energy. They are playing at home with an emotional lift against a terrible team in Memphis and are underdogs?
I have no choice but to back them at home and take the book’s money. Give me the Phoenix Suns at home tonight, getting a point.