Nuggets vs. Grizzlies NBA Odds & Picks: Back Memphis to Continue to Beat the Spread (Friday, March 12)
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jonas Valanciunas snags a rebound.
- The Nuggets entered the All-Star break hot and look to continue that momentum in the second half of the season.
- Memphis won its first game back and enters the game as one of the best in the NBA against the spread.
- Who has the edge on Friday night in Memphis? Phillip Kall breaks it down below.
Nuggets vs. Grizzlies Odds
|Moneyline||-155 / +130|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings.|
The Denver Nuggets made some headway toward solidifying their playoff position by winning four of five heading into the All-Star break. Winning those games came with an extra layer of difficulty as several players were held out with day-to-day injuries. After their extended break, Denver should be reloaded and ready to pick up where it left off.
The Memphis Grizzlies did not fare as well heading into the All-Star break as they only won three of their last seven games. However, they started off the second half of the season hot with a 15-point victory over the Wizards on Wednesday.
With each game meaning more and more, both teams’ intensity will likely tick up. Let’s see if the edge lies with Denver’s offensive onslaught or Memphis’ stout defense.
The Nuggets currently sit sixth in the West and remain far from safe in the playoff picture. While their record holds them in an unstable position, their performance has given fans a reason to remain optimistic. Confirming the optics, Denver’s Net Rating of +5.4, per Basketball-Reference, places them right in line with teams such as the Lakers and Clippers.
None of this would be possible without the leap from MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 27.1 points and 8.6 assists per game with a 56.7% field-goal percentage have been nothing short of fantastic. These gaudy numbers have lifted him all the way up to third in MVP odds.
While Denver’s offense dominates thanks to Jokic, its defense suffers as they rank 14th in Defensive Rating. Jokic’s lack of athleticism and lateral quickness make him absent of value protecting the rim and a target in the pick-and-roll. Things could be worse than a middle-of-the-pack defense, but if the Nuggets want to recreate a deep playoff run, improvements are required.
With a record of 19-14 against the spread, the Grizzlies sit as a top-five team to back. The backbone to Memphis’ success comes from its defense.
Utilizing their length and athleticism on the wings, the Grizzlies force the most steals in the NBA, per Basketball-Reference. They are so adept at thievery that their 9.8 steals per 100 possessions is a full 1.2 ahead of the Pacers’ second-ranked 8.6.
However, Memphis burdens the same problem as Denver. While one end of the court dominates, the other needs some adjustments.
For the Grizzlies, their offensive issues are easily displayed by their 19th-ranked 110.9 Offensive Rating. Looking further, though, Memphis’ trouble comes from choosing not to follow the rest of the NBA in the three-point revolution. The Grizzlies currently shoot the most two-point attempts per 100 possessions and the fourth-fewest three-pointers, per Basketball-Reference.
Fortunately, Memphis’s game plan might have value against Denver. The Nuggets typically force teams off the three-point line . However, they struggle to stop people inside, allowing the second-worst two-point percentage at 55.0%.
This game fits the perfect mold of the old boxer adage “styles make fights.” On one hand, the Nuggets lean heavily on their offense but do so in the half-court to utilize Jokic. On the other, the Grizzlies use their youth and athleticism to attack hard on defense and play with pace.
The key difference will be in the matchups and how each team makes the other uncomfortable. Memphis should hold the edge in this regard. Defensively, the Grizzlies have Jonas Valančiūnas who has the size to make Jokic’s day a little more difficult inside. Offensively, the Grizzlies look to attack inside, the area the Nuggets are worst at defending. Finally, while Memphis has the size to play in the half-court, they still look to play with pace. If they can keep the pace high, Jokic should have fewer chances to impact the game.
Back Memphis to notch another win against the spread.
Pick: Memphis +3.5