NBA Odds, Picks, Prediction for Grizzlies vs. Warriors: Betting Preview for NBA’s Final Play-In Game (Friday, May 21)

NBA Odds, Picks, Prediction for Grizzlies vs. Warriors: Betting Preview for NBA’s Final Play-In Game (Friday, May 21) article feature image
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Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.

  • Stephen Curry and the Warriors host the Grizzlies with a spot in the NBA playoffs on the line.
  • Memphis fell at Golden State on Sunday before beating the Spurs in its first play-in game, while the Warriors lost to the Lakers in LA on Wednesday.
  • Raheem Palmer breaks down the game and provides bettors with his pick.

Grizzlies vs. Warriors Odds

Grizzlies Odds +3.5
Warriors Odds -3.5
Moneyline +140 / -160
Over/Under 220.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM.

After a loss to the Lakers, the Golden State Warriors host the Memphis Grizzlies in a battle for the eighth seed and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

While Golden State lost, the Grizzlies hope to build upon the momentum from defeating the Spurs in the first play-in game while avenging Sunday’s 113-101 loss to the Warriors, which determined the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in the West.

Unlike Sunday, the loser of this matchup’s season is over, and we all know anything can happen in a one game scenario.

Oddsmakers haven’t made much of an adjustment after Sunday’s game, installing the Warriors as 3.5-point favorites at home with an initial total of 225. Although the spread has mostly remained steady, the total was immediately steamed down to where it currently sits at 220.5.

Will we see a repeat of Sunday’s matchup with a Warriors cover and the under. Let’s analyze both sides of this matchup and find out.

Grizzlies Look To Avoid Another Play-In Elimination

For the second year in a row, the Memphis Grizzlies are in a one-game elimination play-in game for the chance to make the postseason, having blown an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter in the bubble against the Trail Blazers. Against the Spurs on Wednesday night, Memphis came out hungry and ready to set the world on fire in the first round. They held a 38-19 lead at the end of the first quarter and the game felt all but over before you could blink an eye.

If you’ve watched the Grizzlies this season, you’re familiar with them blowing games they should have won. Think back to April 19, a 139-137 double-overtime loss to a Jamal Murray-less Denver Nuggets team in which they held a 12-point lead with 3:52 left in the fourth quarter. Or on April 14 against the Mavericks, when they led for 36 minutes and lost despite having the ball up two with 2 seconds in regulation. Grayson Allen missed the game-clinching free throws, which were followed by Luka Doncic nailing a game-winning 3-pointer.

Those were two of many. Memphis even let San Antonio lead in the fourth on Wednesday but came back and sealed the win.

Is that a sign of things to come?

The Grizzlies were a top-10 defense for most of this season, allowing teams to score just 111.6 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage-time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. They’ve slipped quite a bit over the past two weeks, though, ranking 14th in Defensive Rating, giving up 114.1 points per 100 possessions.

Memphis particularly struggles to guard the 3-point line, ending the season 20th in opponent 3-point frequency (36.5%) and 19th in opponent 3-point percentage (37.4%). That doesn’t bode well against Stephen Curry, who exploded for 46 points last Sunday. You could argue he left some meat on the bone, considering he shot 16-of-36 from the field and 9-of-22 from 3-pointland.

Dillon Brooks will likely be the primary defender on Curry, and he’s had some decent success against the two-time MVP. In one game and 21.6 partial possessions, Curry has scored 11 points on just 4-of-10 shooting (40%) when Brooks is the primary defender.

The biggest issue here is Brooks’ tendency to foul — he was fifth in the NBA in personal fouls this season at 3.5 per game. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but this is a superstar league and if there’s any game where you can count on Brooks getting in foul trouble, it’s an elimination game against Curry.

With their hands tied defensively, the Grizzlies need to score a lot more efficiently than they did on Sunday, when they scored 101 points on just 1.05 points per possession.

The shooting should regress some as they were just 6-of-25 (24%) from behind the arc, but this isn’t a particularly good 3-point shooting team. Memphis ranked 21st in 3-point shooting percentage (35.7%).

In three games against the Warriors this season, the Grizzlies had Offensive Ratings of 105.6, 100.6 and 105, so it’s not out of the question to think that this Warriors team may have their number defensively. Jonas Valanciunas scored 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting in Sunday’s game against the Warriors and 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting against the Spurs, but this team hasn’t otherwise scored efficiently.

If the Grizzlies want to avoid getting eliminated in their second straight play-in game, they need an improved offensive performance against a top-five defense.

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Warriors Riding Red-Hot Curry

The Warriors squandered a golden opportunity against the Lakers. They led by double digits at halftime and had a 98-95 lead with 2:30. With the game tied at 100-100 with 58 seconds to go, a desperation 32-foot heave from LeBron James all but ended the game.

Now, Golden States find itself in a dangerous one-game scenario.

Although the Warriors had their chances to win, the biggest issue for this team continues to be turnovers. Golden State ranked 24th during the season by turning the ball over on 14.7% of their possessions in non-garbage-time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Against Los Angeles, the Warriors gave up 18 points off 20 turnovers to a rusty Lakers team that hasn’t found its footing offensively since the return of James and Anthony Davis. Eight third-quarter Warriors turnovers were the catalyst for the Lakers’ comeback.

The Grizzlies are first in transition points per possession (4.0). More turnovers would create easy scoring opportunities for Morant to create for a struggling Grizzlies offense.

When the Warriors aren’t turning the ball over, they’ve proven to be one of the best teams in basketball since the absence of both James Wiseman and Kelly Oubre. The Warriors are 21-5 without Wiseman and 12-5 without Oubre this season. More importantly, they are first in Net Rating (8.6), ninth in Offensive Rating (115.3) and first in Defensive Rating ( 106.7) since Wiseman’s last game on April 10.

Curry may not win the Most Valuable Player Award over Nikola Jokic, but he’s certainly had a MVP-caliber season. He’s coming off a 37-point game (12-of-23 shooting, 6-of-9 from 3-point range) against a tall and lengthy Lakers defense that is the NBA’s best.

The two-time MVP had an even easier time against the Grizzlies in Sunday’s game. With the Grizzlies struggling to defend the perimeter, I’m expecting another big performance from Curry in this matchup. One of the most interesting stats in Sunday’s game is that Curry made nine 3-balls, which is as many as the entire Grizzlies team made.

Curry is so dangerous that no one player is responsible for defending him. It takes a team effort, and the Grizzlies failed miserably Sunday. Take a look at these three possessions for examples of the commitment and discipline it takes to defend Curry. Getting lost for one second provides him an opportunity to launch from anywhere.

The Warriors are scoring 115.2 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor and 104.9 with him off.

Unlike the earlier on in the season, it’s not just Curry, the supporting cast has stepped up. Andrew Wiggins has become a reliable second option, providing solid defense and timely scoring, having scored 21 points against both the Lakers and Grizzlies in the Warriors’ last two games.

Although Curry gets all the press, Draymond Green is a big part of why this Warriors team is fifth in Defensive Rating, holding opposing teams 110.6 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage-time minutes.

Memphis’ offense is heavily reliant on midrange jumpers and floaters, an area of the floor where the Warriors are defensively solid. Golden State’s opponents this season have shot 41.5% in that area, which is 11th in the NBA.

The Grizzlies as a whole shot just 56% around the rim, which is in the 20th percentile of all NBA games this season. Overall, the Warriors have defended Memphis well this year, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change.

Grizzlies-Warriors Pick

When this line opened at 225, I immediately grabbed the under as I believed the opener was too high for an elimination game. You can check out many of my bets in real time on The Action Network app. Nonetheless, all the value is sucked out of the total now.

Still, I believe there’s an edge on this game, particularly on the side since I believe the Golden State Warriors are the better team. Since the loss of Wiseman and Oubre, the Warriors have been the best defense in the league while maintaining a top-10 offense.

Home teams have been downright dominant in these play-in games. The Pacers, Celtics, Grizzlies, Lakers and Wizards have all won at home this year. The only team to particularly struggle was the Lakers, although they’re still rusty after the recent returns of James and Davis.

In no other sport does having the best player matter like basketball and the Warriors have the best player. Curry will get his one way or another, especially with Brooks’ fouling tendencies and Memphis’ struggles in defending the 3-point line. Sometimes, having the best player is the difference between a team going to playoffs and going home.

For the second straight year, the play-in game appears to be the end of the road for the Grizzlies. I’ll lay the -3.5 with the Warriors and would bet this up to -4.

Pick: Golden State Warriors -3.5 (play up to -4)

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