The NBA’s loaded Sunday schedule concludes with the Clippers hosting the Grizzlies, in a Western Conference matchup of teams that need a pick-me-up. Los Angeles has lost five games in a row since Russell Westbrook swapped L.A. jerseys, while Memphis will be without three rotational players — including Ja Morant — as the Kings close in on their No. 2 seed. We have all the odds, betting trends, predictions, and best bets to get you ready for this pivotal game.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Morant, who recently flashed a gun in an Instagram Live feed on his personal page after a series of disconcerting news stories have come out about him recently. The star point guard released a public apology and said he intends to step away from the NBA to address his stress and general well-being. So, Memphis is without him for an undisclosed amount of time — but on top of that, it just lost backup big Brandon Clarke to a season-ending Achilles tendon tear and Dillon Brooks got suspended for being issued his NBA-leading 16th technical foul.
MORE NBA: How long is Ja Morant out?
As the saying goes, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” The Grizz have fallen on tougher times than the main characters in “Cocaine Bear” right as the regular season is about to hit the 80 percent mark. Their Sunday night opponents can sympathize — the Clippers have dropped five games in a row and seven of their past nine, and crunch time has been incredibly unkind to Ty Lue’s squad.
Kawhi Leonard has been spectacular, and Paul George has been almost as good. Westbrook, meanwhile, has been exactly what we all thought he was when the Lakers cut bait on him: an athletic specimen capable of moments of brilliance — sometimes across large stretches of games — but one who ultimately does not shoot the ball well, take care of the ball in the clutch, or play good on-ball defense.
Russell Westbrook hasn’t won a single game in the past month.
And… he’s also winless in his last 14 starts. 😳
Tough times. (h/t @nflandhotdfan) pic.twitter.com/EQgiwe9ZmV
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) March 3, 2023
The Clippers had hoped Westbrook would shore up their deficiencies at point guard and step up as their third perimeter scorer in the starting five. But things have looked as murky as ever at times since his arrival. Lue might have some real decisions on his hands if things don’t get better soon — L.A. is already in play-in tournament territory, and could descend quickly out of the bubble if the tough times persist.
Which squad will break out of its funk this evening? Can Memphis rally despite missing two starters and one of its main backup bigs? Or will Los Angeles snap its five-game skid and enjoy Westbrook’s first W as a Clipper? Let’s get into the odds, discuss some keys to the game, and go over our best bets and predictions for this pivotal west-coast matchup.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies odds, picks, predictions
- Spread: Clippers -7.5 (-105) | Grizzlies +7.5 (-115)
- Total: Over 227.5 (-115) | Under 227.5 (-105)
- Moneyline: Clippers -275 | Grizzlies +220
BetMGM clearly likes the home squad to pull out of its losing streak in the midst of Memphis’s personnel issues. Projecting the Clippers to win by eight is a surprise, to be sure, as they have failed to cover four of their past five spreads. However, they have covered six of their past seven spreads when favored at home by seven or more points.
But wait — record screech — let’s take a closer look at who those opponents were:
That’s Golden State without Steph Kerr, Minnesota with no Karl-Anthony Towns, and four games against tanking squads. So, disregard those six of seven covers when favored -7 or more. The Grizzlies may be without their star, but they have proven time and again over the past couple seasons that they can succeed with or without Ja (wasn’t that a U2 song?).
Much like Bill Belichick’s mantra with the New England Patriots, when someone goes down the ‘next man up’ must be ready to rise to the occasion. And Taylor Jenkins — a perennial Coach of the Year candidate in just his fourth year as a head coach — always has his guys ready. Tyus Jones, quite possibly the best and most efficient backup point guard in the Association, will step up in Morant’s absence. Capable bigs Xavier Tillman and Santi Aldama will take on larger roles in Clarke’s stead. And three-point marksman Desmond Bane will up his offensive usage a bit to offset Brooks’s suspension.
The Grizzlies won more games without Ja Morant last season (20-5) than the Cavs did without LeBron in 11 seasons combined (14-39) 🤯 pic.twitter.com/duAmBDrzGP
— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) August 20, 2022
Defensively, Brooks and Clarke will be missed. The size and strength of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard could pose problems to an undermanned Grizz squad, while Tillman and Aldama will need to stay out of foul trouble when helping Jaren Jackson Jr. battle Ivica Zubac and Mason Plumlee. But JJJ doesn’t need much help — the man is the odds-on favorite for Defensive Player of the Year for a reason — he’s the best interior defender in the game. Playing without Steven Adams for a large stretch — and now missing Clarke and two starters — will only magnify Jackson’s impact.
Remember last season when the Grizzlies went 20-5 without Ja, even though a ton of people had him as an MVP candidate? Yeah, we do, too. The Grizzlies are still very solid on both sides of the ball, and we don’t see them getting blown out against a Clippers team that just dropped five consecutive games. If nothing else, Westbrook will do his part to make it dramatic — it’s almost like he can’t help himself. But a couple points if you want extra insurance — you can get the Grizz up to +9.5 for just -150 — but we think a seven-point handicap is more than enough for Jenkins’ squad.
Best Bet: Grizzlies +7.5 (-115)
Clippers vs. Grizzlies: Best player prop bets
Tyus Jones over 7.5 assists (+115)
I love Tyus Jones — he just quietly does his job game in and game out, regularly sitting amongst the league leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio and making low-key brilliant plays for teammates. Opposing defenders have to respect his underrated range, but he can blow by them with his quick first step and find the open man when help converges. He’s a textbook point guard with good vision, touch, and accuracy. We’re all over this one and love that we’re getting plus odds for such a doable prop. He averages 7.7 assists per game as a starter this season, and he’s getting Jaren Jackson Jr. in arguably the best offensive stretch of his career.
Desmond Bane over 2.5 three-pointers (-140)
No plus odds here, but we don’t mind some juice if it’s this close to a lock prop. Bane is the main offensive catalyst of this Grizzlies squad, and he attempts seven treys a game when Morant is playing. Just imagine how many he will hoist tonight against a tough opponent with Morant away from the team! He’s a 43 percent three-point shooter across his three-year career, and the Clippers allow 12.3 treys per game. Bane could hit three triples by halftime.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies: DFS lineup
Lineup assembled in DraftKings Showdown Mode. Six spots, $50,000 limit.
|Captain (1.5x FPTS)||Jaren Jackson Jr. (MEM)||34.9||$15,600|
|Utility||Paul George (LA)||42.5||$11,400|
|Utility||Santi Aldama (MEM)||19.9||$5,400|
|Utility||Tyus Jones (MEM)||21.5||$2,400|
|Utility||Robert Covington (LA)||15.2||$3,200|
As I alluded to in the preview, I like JJJ to show up in a major way tonight. So, give me the contrarian discount and make him my captain for the 1.5-times boost. That way I can still afford Leonard and George, the 1-2 punch that the majority of winning Showdown lineups will feature this evening. Aldama and Jones are my sleeper extraordinaires, both likely to see solid results from their expected usage boosts. And RoCo dropped 27 DK points against Sacramento on Friday, despite DK listed him at $0. They won’t make that mistake again!