Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Grizzlies vs. 76ers (2/23/2023) - Taking Vegas



Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Grizzlies vs. 76ers (2/23/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
February 23, 2023
Photo by: Petre Thomas - USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies vs Philadelphia 76ers (2/23 @ 7:30 PM EST)

Spread: 76ers -4
Money Line: Grizzlies +145 / 76ers -160
Total: 229.5

Overview and Betting Info

The Memphis Grizzlies (35-22) will head to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on the 76ers (38-19) in a battle of two of the NBA’s best teams. These teams met back in December with Memphis winning 117-109 at home. The Grizzles are currently second in the West while the Sixers are third in the East.

The Grizzlies are 26-29-2 against the spread this season but have failed to cover five of their last seven games. They’ve gone over the total 25 times but have been under in seven of their last ten.

The Sixers are 33-23-1 versus the spread and have covered their last four games. The Sixers have gone over the total 33 times but have been under in three of their last five.

Memphis Grizzlies

After a brutal cold streak that saw Memphis lose eight of nine games, they’ve now won three of their last four. They are still second in the West but are five games behind Denver. They have lost three of their previous four games against Eastern opponents, with the lone win coming at home against the Bulls. Their offense has been solid all season, ranking ninth in scoring (116.1 PPG) despite being nineteenth in shooting percentage (47.0%) and twenty-fourth in three-point percentage (34.5%). On defense, Memphis has been elite. They rank eighth in opponent scoring (112.2 PPG), first in field goal percentage (44.9%), second in rebounds (47.7 RPG), fourth in steals (8.4 SPG), and second in blocks (6.1 BPG). The Grizzlies have struggled on the road, going 11-17 this season.

Memphis is led by Ja Morant (27.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 8.3 APG, 1.0 SPG) and Desmond Bane (21.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.0 SPG). Morant looks like an MVP this season, ranking eighth in the league in scoring and fifth in assists. We expect him to have a big game on Thursday, as he averages 34 points when playing after 3+ days of rest. He shot poorly against the Sixers in December but ended with 28 points and just one turnover. Bane is one of the best sharpshooters in the league, ranking sixth in the NBA in three-point percentage (42.7%). After missing most of November and December with an injury, he has bounced back to make 47.4% of his threes. While Bane’s shooting percentage drops on the road, he still averages over 21 points.

Jaren Jackson Jr (16.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.3 BPG) and Dillon Brooks (14.8 PPG) have been the Grizzlies’ top two support players this season. Jackson is having a breakout season leading the NBA in blocks by a wide margin (The second-highest average is 2.6 BPG) and has career highs in scoring and rebounding. The forward was outstanding against the Sixers, scoring 22 points and blocking four shots. With Steven Adams (8.6 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 1.1 BPG) still out, Jackson will play a key role again on Thursday. Brooks is a streaky shooter and has struggled to find consistency. After a fantastic November and December, where he averaged over 17 points, he is now averaging just over eight in his six games this month. Expect Brandon Clarke (10.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG) to play a significant role as he fills in the starting lineup in place of Adams. He’s making 64% of his shots in February but will be challenged by a physical Sixers team.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers enter Thursday just three games behind the East-leading Celtics. They have won four straight and six of their last eight, making them one of the NBA’s hottest teams. Their injury report remains empty, giving them an advantage over a Grizzlies team missing its starting center. Their defense has been their strength, ranking third in opponent scoring (110.5 PPG), seconding three-point percentage (34.4%), and eighth in steals (8.4 SPG). Philadelphia’s offense has been a bit disappointing, ranking sixteenth in scoring (114.4 PPG) despite being fourth in three-point percentage (38.4%). They have struggled with rebounding (40.5 RPG), as they rank twenty-eighth in the NBA. The Sixers have dominated at home, going 23-8 this season.

The Sixers are led by the duo of Joel Embiid (33.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.5 BPG) and James Harden (21.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 10.8 APG). Embiid is the NBA’s second-leading scorer (just 0.2 points behind Doncic) and the ninth-leading rebounder. He’s been incredible at home, averaging 34 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. Surprisingly, those numbers drop after he has had three days of rest. While Harden’s scoring is down, his assist totals lead the NBA. On top of that, his defense has improved to make him one of the more difficult matchups for opposing backcourts. His numbers on the road versus at home are similar, but he averages over 26 points on three days’ rest.

The Sixers stars are supported by Tyrese Maxey (19.8 PPG) and Tobias Harris (15.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG). Maxey has been a significant scorer for the Sixers, but his average has dropped each month this season. That has continued despite making 40.5% of his threes in February. Harris has also seen his scoring drop, but he continues to be a solid contributor in steals and rebounds. He was outstanding against the Grizzlies in December, where he scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Keep an eye on the new addition Jalen McDaniels (10.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG1, 1.1 SPG). He was a solid contributor in Charlotte but has struggled to find his place with the Sixers. Once he does, he will be a dangerous weapon for Philadelphia.

Free Pick: Sixers -4

We feel confident that this is a relatively easy win for the Sixers. While it’s hard to predict how a team will return after the All-Star break, we think their play at home, combined with the Grizzlies’ road struggles lead to a win. Memphis did win their first matchup, but that was at home and without Harden available for the Sixers. He has been their best distributor and is a crucial cog in the Sixers’ offense, so his return for Thursday’s game is a considerable boost.

We also worry about how the Grizzlies will defend Embiid without Steven Adams available. In their December meeting, the center has 16 rebounds and three blocks against the Sixers. Jackson is great, but even he can’t make up for the defensive production they will be missing with Adams out. We see the Sixers rebounding struggles being alleviated by the absence, taking away a massive advantage for Memphis.

We will give up the points to roll with the Sixers on Thursday.