The big news in the NBA was the Memphis Grizzlies trading leading scorer Rudy Gay. Some will argue that he was an inefficient player (shooting only 40% from the floor this season), and John Hollinger’s famed PER stat has determined the Grizz are about three wins better without Gay and instead inserting Tayshaun Prince/ Ed Davis… but I’m not sure I’m convinced this move makes them a better team. I can see why you’d want to shed Gay’s ridiculous max contract, but this move just makes the chasm between the West’s top three teams and everybody else that much wider.
Obviously they struggled last night shorthanded (David, Prince and also-acquired Austin Daye were not with the team yet) against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder, losing 106-89, but they get another chance tonight, this time at home. So can the Grizz capture the first win of the new Gay-less era? Let’s dig inside that matchup in tonight’s free pick….
Washington Wizards at Memphis Grizzlies -6 (Total: 181)
Just when the Wizards looked like world beaters , rattling off seven wins in ten games, they have gone back to their losing ways – losing two games in a row including a home loss to Sacramento. However, given where they were coming from (one of the worst starts in NBA history) it is still a much rosier outlook in the Nation’s Capital with John Wall finally healthy (and thankfully not doing pre-game Dougie routines).
Memphis is the superior team, and is playing at home. That’s usually a pretty good recipe. Yes, they have some roster turnover and yes they played last night; but it isn’t like the core of the team is that different. Tayshaun in a defensive player who doesn’t need the basketball. If anything, it frees up more shots for the best one-two interior combo in the NBA; Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. I like Memphis to pound the ball in early and for John Wall to have his hands full with the most underrated defensive point guard in the league, Mike Conley.
This could be a fun game, but I like Memphis to pull away and cover the six points at home.
Free Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -6
Two quick bonus picks. I know Miami has been playing well on the road lately, but I think they blew their emotional load shutting up Reggie Evans and the Nets. They have a tough road game tonight against an Indiana team that is completely unafraid of them. Give me Indiana getting two in their home gym.
Last pick. I love Utah at home laying five tonight to Portland. The Jazz have beaten Portland four times in row, two home and two away. The Jazz are also 16-5 at home this season, and if you erase the Houston debacle from your mind, they look like one of the best home teams in the NBA. Portland has struggled on the road mightily; going just 7-14 this season. I’ll take the Jazz with a cover and a win.
Bonus Picks: Indiana Pacers +2, Utah Jazz -5