Lakers vs Grizzlies Odds, Prediction, Expert Picks | NBA Playoffs Game 1 Betting Preview (April 16)

Lakers vs Grizzlies Odds, Prediction, Expert Picks | NBA Playoffs Game 1 Betting Preview (April 16) article feature image

Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies.

  • The Memphis Grizzlies are home favorites (point spread: Grizzlies -4.5) in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • Many are expecting a lengthy series between these teams, but which side will start with a victory?
  • Andrew O'Connow-Watts has the NBA Playoffs Game 1 betting preview and shares his expert pick below.

Lakers vs. Grizzlies Odds

Lakers Odds+4.5
Grizzlies Odds-4.5
Time3 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The playoffs are here! And we can finally enjoy some competitive basketball — just ignore the Nets vs Sixers and Hawks vs Celtics series.

Instead, focus your attention on the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies and the No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers, who find themselves matched up in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs.

These teams met three times during the regular season and the home team came away with the win and the cover each time.

There’s only so much we can take away from the regular season meetings since both teams have gone through some roster transformations since they last met.

LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell were absent from the previous two meetings and Anthony Davis was absent from the first matchup in L.A. The Lakers won a close one, 122-121 but Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke combined for 48 minutes. They’ll both miss the remainder of the playoffs, which means Memphis will have to find a way to combat the Lakers' size if it wants to advance to Round 2. Meanwhile, the older, more experienced Lakers will need to find an answer for the Grizzlies' speed and energy.

Let’s breakdown Game 1 and come up with a Lakers vs Grizzlies prediction.

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Los Angeles Lakers

This is one of the last opportunities for James to make a title run before shifting to the twilight phase of his career — and he knows it. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t see him playing in Game 1.

After several doctors told James to have season-ending foot surgery, he saw “the LeBron James of feet” — who advised him against shutting things down. Whoever this mystery doctor is, they sound like a NBA fan, because by all accounts, James is waiting until the summer to make a decision on surgery.

In the meantime, we have a fully-rostered Lakers team against a Grizzlies team with a depleted frontline.

That gives the Lakers a sizable advantage in the series given their shot profile from the regular season.

Since the trade deadline, the Lakers rank third in free-throw rate on offense and first on defense, while the Grizzlies are just 17th defensively. Free throw difference over the course of the series should provide L.A. with a big advantage.

The James-Davis Lakers tend to get going later on, once James gets a feel for his opponent. In Game 1s, however, the James-Davis Lakers are just 2-5 ATS, going back to 2019-20.

Memphis Grizzlies

There were some encouraging signs from the Grizzlies toward the end of the regular season. Their half-court offense improved from 22nd overall to 17th from March 4 until the end of the regular season. Why March 4? That’s when Ja Morant stepped away from the team for personal reasons.

Morant is an electric and energetic scorer, but he thrives almost exclusively in the open court, in transition off of rebounds or live ball turnovers. His half-court capabilities leave a lot to be desired, and when the game slows down in the playoffs, his value gets somewhat diminished.

That said, the Grizzlies showed they can play at a slower pace and be successful without Morant. They managed a +3.8 differential in his absence and went 6-3 while he was away. With Luke Kennard and without Morant, the Grizzlies half-court offense has improved. They’ll need to lean on those minutes to compete this series.

In Game 1, I don’t think we’ll see those weaknesses pop up just yet. The Grizzlies are a young team. They start hot and let their energy and momentum propel them.

Since Taylor Jenkins took over head coaching duties, Memphis is 4-2 ATS in Games 1 and 2. In Games 3 through 7, they’re just 4-7 ATS. I’ll look to back the Grizzlies early and fade them later in the series.

Lakers-Grizzlies Pick

The Grizzlies should have their hands full with an older, more experienced Lakers team. I have the Lakers advancing, but it should be a lengthy series either way.

For this series to go the distance, both teams have to win a few games. And for Memphis, I think that starts with Game 1, and early.

During the regular season, the Grizzlies were 50-31 ATS in the first half and 28-12-1 at home. The Lakers were above .500 on the road (43-39-1 ATS), but were just 4-6 in the first half in their final 10 games.

I like Memphis to get down to business early and outrun the Lakers. I’ll take the Grizzlies in the first half down to -2.5 and down to -4 for the full game.

Pick: Grizzlies 1H -1.5 (-110) | Grizzlies -3.5 Full Game

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