Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Lakers (1/20 @ 10:00 PM EST)
Spread: Grizzlies -7
Money Line: Grizzlies -260 / Lakers +220
Overview and Betting Info
The Memphis Grizzlies (31-13) will head to LA on Friday to take on the Lakers (20-25). This will be the first matchup between these two teams this season. Memphis is 11-10 on the road, while the Lakers are 11-11 at home. The Grizzlies are second in the West while the lowly Lakers are 12th.
Memphis is 22-20-2 against the spread this season but failed to cover four of their last six games. They have gone over the total 22 times and have been over or pushed in their last eight games (7 over, 1 push).
LA is 20-24-1 versus the spread and covered seven of their last ten games. They have gone over the total 25 times but have been under in four of their last five games.
After dealing with an array of injuries to their top two players, the Grizzlies have won their last 11 games. They had a more manageable schedule but won six games by ten or more points during the run. After an impressive victory at home against the Cavs on Wednesday, the Grizzlies will head out for a five-game road trip starting in LA. They are led by an offense that is second in the league in scoring (124.8 PPG) and leads in rebounds (49.0 RPG). On defense, they rank eighth in scoring (111.7 PAPG) and allow the lowest shooting percentage in the league (44.5%).
The Grizzlies are led by Ja Morant (27.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.9 APG) and Desmond Bane (21.8 PPG, 5 RPG, 4 APG). Morant is one of the league’s brightest stars, averaging 29 points and shooting 52% from the field this month. He has been especially great in their last three games, where he scored 76 points, 25 assists, and just four turnovers. Bane is lesser known but has emerged as a young star after shooting 45.3% from three. He, too, has been hot over their last three, scoring 78 points and 56% from three. The Lakers won’t stand a chance if Ja and Bane can carry that over to Friday.
While Bane and Ja are the stars, the Grizzlies have a ton of depth that’s allowed them to win even with both players out. Jaren Jackson Jr (16.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 3.3 BPG, 36.8 3PT%) and Dillon Brooks (16.3 PPG) lead that group. Jackson is turning into a star in front of our eyes and is having a great January, thanks to making 43.8% of his threes. He’s also been incredible on defense and is averaging 3.7 blocks through nine games this month. Brooks has been a solid role player, but his value spikes when Bane and Ja are out. With the two stars missing time during December and November, Dillon averaged over 17 points and was a reliable scorer. While Morant and Bane are expected to play, we still expect Dillon to serve a vital role against the Lakers on Friday.
Los Angeles Lakers
After a five-game win streak to start the new year, the Lakers have now lost four of their last five games. It was a brutal stretch with losses coming to the Mavs, Sixers, and Nuggets. Things will get more challenging on Friday as they take on the second-best team in the conference. Despite being 27th in three-point percentage (33.7%), the Lakers have had some success on offense and are eighth in points (116.9 PPG), sixth in field goal percentage (48.6%), and seventh in rebounds (44.7). Their problems have come on defense, where they are 27th in points allowed (118.0 PAPG).
The Lakers are led by the duo of Lebron James (29.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 7.0 APG) and Anthony Davis (27.4 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG). Davis has been out since mid-December and is likely a couple weeks away, leaving Lebron to carry this Lakers team. Despite his age, LeBron is having an incredible season and is averaging over 34 PPG since Davis has been out. While he’s been struggling from three, the former MVP has dominated teams since the beginning of December and should be in for another big night on Friday.
Russell Westbrook is leading the Lakers’ role players (15.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 7.7 APG) and is making a case for Sixth Man Award after moving to the bench this season. He’s having an incredible month, averaging 20 points by shooting 46% from the field and making 34% of his threes. He’s been over 20 points in five of his last six games and should continue to score with Davis out. The Lakers will be without crucial shooters Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves, meaning Westbrook will see even more minutes along with Dennis Schroder (12 PPG). Schroeder was on fire for the first five games this month, averaging 21.8 points, but he is averaging just 7.2 points in the four games since. Keep an eye on Wenyen Gabriel, as he has earned an uptick in minutes over the last four games and responded by averaging 13 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Free Pick: Under 242
On paper, the Grizzlies should win this game in a landslide, but the under is the better bet. The Grizzlies’ win streak has been incredible, but those often end in games just like the one we have on Friday night. The Lakers will be without several key scorers and facing one of the NBA’s best defenses, so we don’t expect them to put up many points regardless of how the game ends. Still, Lebron’s recent play and his ability to carry teams to victory stop us from giving up the points to take Memphis. Especially given how high the total is for this one.
We see this either being a low-scoring brawl where Lebron wills the Lakers to victory or a lopsided blowout that falls well short of the 242 total.
We’re taking the under for this one.