NBA Tuesday: Value is in the Grizzlies as an underdog

NBA Tuesday: Value is in the Grizzlies as an underdog article feature image

After a relatively quiet NBA Monday, we’ve got 10 games to sift through today with Memphis headlining the value picks in their trip to Portland.

Yesterday: The Celtics fell short of the -8 cover in their 110-107 win over the Hawks. It looked like an easy winner before Marco Belinelli inspired a 32-point Atlanta fourth quarter.

Hornets @ Knicks (5-4)

I liked the look of the Knicks at -1. Then even more at +1. But after digging deep into a few numbers, I’ve done the ‘ole switcharoo and landed on the Hornets at -2.

I mentioned yesterday the importance of Kristaps Porzingis when it comes to the Knicks covering, but it’s worth repeating again for this one:

What makes it so crucial tonight is Charlotte’s incredible ability so far this season to limit some of the NBA’s best big men:

Nikola Jokic: 18 points on 8-11 shooting
Nikola Vucevic: 15 points on 6-17 shooting
Marc Gasol: 10 points on 4-15 shooting
LaMarcus Aldridge: 14 points on 4-12 shooting
Karl Anthony-Towns: 16 points 5-11 shooting

Porzingis is the best of the bunch offensively this season, scoring 30.2 points per game while shooting 50 percent. He’s the focal point of the Knicks offense that has largely struggled for their 104.7 points per game (18th). Expected to be the No. 2 guy, Tim Hardaway Jr. has only just started to justify the $71 million extension he signed over the summer, so we’re a long way from calling him consistent.

With Kemba Walker having a career year, Dwight Howard controlling the paint and Jeremy Lamb the early frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award, I like the Hornets.

It will all come down to how they defend Porzingis, but their form through 10 games suggests he’s going to struggle.

Pick: Hornets -2

76ers (5-4) @ Jazz (5-5)

Two things have me going with the Jazz here.

First of all, Joel Embiid has been ruled out due to "load management," so the Sixers are already without their best player.

Second, the Jazz are 5-1 at home straight up and against the spread.

The opening -7 line initially seemed a little steep, but with Utah’s ability to defend on the perimeter, I like them to keep Philadelphia well below their 107.7 points per game (10th). Thabo Sefolosha is a professional stopper while Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell have more than bought into Quin Snyder’s defensive mentality.

Admittedly, I’m higher on Utah than most people are, but they’ve covered all three times I’ve tipped them this season. I’m confident they will make it 4-0 tonight with a firey performance after being embarrassed by the Rockets on Sunday.

Pick: Jazz -6.5

Grizzlies (6-4) @ Trail Blazers (6-4)

The Grizzlies as an underdog is always a line worth looking at.

With a tendency to play up or down to their opponent, Memphis has an impressive 28-21 record in their last 49 games as the underdog.

So far in 2017-18, the Grizzlies are 3-0 against the spread as the underdog and 2-0 as an away dog.

The trends continue to work in Memphis’ favor.

Portland is 3-4 against the spread as the favorite this season, but all four of those losses have come in their last four games – all of which were at home.

Aside from the trends, the Grizzlies have the ability to restrict one of the Trail Blazers’ biggest strengths. At 39.4 percent from beyond the arc, the Trail Blazers are ranked fifth in the league in 3-point shooting. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum throw up a fusillade of long-range attempts, with the latter currently hitting 54.7 percent of them.

The Grizzlies, on the other hand, only allow their opponents to connect on 32.2 percent of their 3-point attempts (fourth).

With Memphis going so well as an underdog and the fact they can handle Portland’s perimeter percentages, I like them to win this one on the road.

Pick: Grizzlies +125

Remaining games:

Bucks (4-5) @ Cavaliers (4-6)
Mavericks (1-10) @ Wizards (5-4)
Pelicans (5-5) @ Pacers (5-5)
Bulls (2-6) @ Raptors (5-4)
Clippers (5-4) @ Spurs (6-4)
Nets (4-6) @ Nuggets (5-5)
Thunder (4-5) @ Kings (1-8)

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