NBA Play-In Tournament Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Spurs vs. Grizzlies, Warriors vs. Lakers (Wednesday, May 19)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.
- There are two games on tonight's NBA Play-In schedule, but the marquee matchup between the Warriors and Lakers is getting all of the attention.
- The Action Network staff has picks on both games and they are tackling the late game from multiple betting angles.
- See where they are finding value on Wednesday's slate.
Day 2 of the NBA Play-In tournament gives us the most anticipated game of the bunch. The Golden State Warriors will face the Los Angeles Lakers and the winner secures the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, plus three days of rest before a matchup with the Phoenix Suns.
Not to be overlooked, is a matchup between No. 9 and No. 10 in the West when the Memphis Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs in the early game.
Motivation is obviously high in both and our NBA analysts like three angles on tonight’s two-game slate. You can check out their game analysis and picks below.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Kenny Ducey: You can’t be doing much worse than the Spurs right now, who have lost 10 of 12 games heading into the play-in tournament. Their defense and rebounding has cratered, and those are two areas I see as particularly troubling in this one.
The last two times these sides met, the score wasn’t even close. Memphis won both games by a combined margin of 28 points, suffocating San Antonio’s offense and out-rebounding the Spurs 98-80. Now, we’ve got a Spurs team that has ranked 18th in Rebounding Rate over the last 20 games and third-worst in Defensive Rating.
It’s always hard to judge teams based on end-of-season rankings when some teams care and others don’t, but the Spurs certainly had a lot to play for up to season finale. San Antonio is weak, and a bit banged up in the frontcourt with plenty of forwards and centers popping up on the injury report in the past week.
A group for the Grizzlies led by Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson, Jr., who returned late in the season, should make the difference here. I think San Antonio will get abused on the glass and have the weaker of the two defenses, which as we saw in Tuesday’s Celtics-Wizards game can make a huge difference. I’d take this to -5.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Raheem Palmer: My model makes this game 217, so it’s not surprising to see this total steamed from the open of 221.5 to where it currently sits now at 218.5.
Despite the star power in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry, these two teams aren’t elite offensively. They are, however, two of the league’s best defenses. With and without James and Davis, the Lakers have maintained one of the best defenses in the league all season long.
They closed the season second in Defensive Rating, giving up just 108 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. More importantly this team is adept at guarding the perimeter, allowing opposing teams to shoot just 36% from behind the arc, fourth-lowest among NBA teams.
Of course if you’re matched up against Curry, you better know how to defend the 3-point line, which is something they do a lot better than the Grizzlies, who spent much of Sunday afternoon getting lost on screens and back cuts. Guarding Curry requires effort from the entire team and I believe the Lakers are equipped to do so, particularly if they keep Andre Drummond off the floor.
The Warriors also have a top-five defense, allowing opposing teams to score just 110.6 points per 100 possessions. Draymond Green continues to prove that he’s one of the best defensive players in the history of the game as his presence on the floor can wreck opposing teams’ offenses.
Opponents are shooting just 45.9% within 6 feet of the rim when Green is defending them and he also ranks in the 96th percentile in steal percentage, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The Warriors rank in the top 10 at defending every area of the floor, including the rim where they’re allowing teams to shoot 62.4%, seventh among NBA teams. Although I don’t expect them to completely lock this Lakers team down, I think they’ll do a solid job at keeping this game close.
Although the play-in game isn’t technically the playoffs, I’m handicapping these games as if they are playoff games projecting a slower pace.
James in particularly tends to control more possessions and his teams have historically played slow throughout his career. That said, I like the under, (I got it at 220) and look for a lower scoring defensive game than the market would suggest based on the star power in this game.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Brandon Anderson: This is the big one, the one we’ve been waiting for and dreaming about for months. It’s LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry with everything on the line.
Okay, not everything — this isn’t an elimination game or, technically even a playoff game yet — but this game is significant. The winner is definitely in the playoffs and has the far better playoff path with the Suns up next and then by far the best second round opponent, either the Nuggets or Blazers.
The loser has to win an elimination game just to make the playoffs, then go to Utah on short rest and try to beat the No. 1 seed before playing the Clippers or Mavs in round two. This may not be an elimination game, but if either of these teams wants to make a serious playoff run, a win here is absolutely vital.
I’m not sure the Lakers have ever been as good as everyone wants to think they are this season. LeBron James and Anthony Davis played only 81 games combined and had probably their worst regular seasons since they were each 20 years old, and the Lakers have struggled to find offense all year, even with both on the court.
LA’s defense has been great but not necessarily elite, and with the lack of team shooting and the extremely meh play of Lakers role players, this team may not be built for a title defense.
But the Lakers don’t need a title defense tonight — they just need a win, and this matchup appears to weigh strongly in their favor, even if the Warriors have been undeniably better over the last month.
The Lakers won two of three season matchups and throttled the Warriors on the glass. They out-rebounded Golden State by 59 boards, with a +16 margin or better in every game. The Lakers also lived at the line, with a +33 free throw margin.
The Warriors still turn the ball over easily, and the Lakers have the size, length, and defensive ability to turn Curry’s evening into a nightmare — and you know LeBron knows every intricacy of this offense. The Lakers also have the perfect Warriors cheat code in Anthony Davis. Playing Davis against Draymond Green in the small-ball lineup cuts off that deadly pick-and-roll.
As awesome as Curry has been all season, he’ll be defended differently in the playoffs, and that starts here. The Lakers will force the rest of the Warriors to beat them, and Curry and this offense have struggled to do that against the league’s best defenses. The Warriors are 26-12 when Curry scores 30 or more but just 13-21 otherwise. They’re also 25-11 at home but just 14-22 on the road.
I’m not totally sure the Lakers are better than the Warriors right now, but they don’t have to be the better team — they just have to score more for one night, and unless LeBron’s ankle is really shot, I just think this is the wrong matchup for Golden State. I have to take the champs at -5 until I see James become mortal and wounded when the games matter most. I’ll play the Lakers to -6.5.