Celtics vs. Grizzlies Odds & Picks: Memphis Can't Keep Pace Without Ja Morant

NBA Odds & Picks for Grizzlies vs. Celtics: Shorthanded Memphis Can’t Keep Up (Dec. 30) article feature image
Credit:

Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum

  • The Celtics are nearly a double-digit favorite over the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
  • Memphis will be without star point guard Ja Morant and several other key pieces, and really only has one other PG on its roster.
  • See how we're betting Boston below:

Grizzlies at Celtics Odds

Grizzlies Odds +9 [BET NOW]
Celtics Odds -9 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +320/-420 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 225.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBCSB, FSSE
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Grizzlies face the Celtics Wednesday night in Boston in a battle between two teams without their point guards.

Ja Morant suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain on Monday and will miss the next three to five weeks while Kemba Walker is still out indefinitely with a knee injury from the bubble.

Despite Walker’s absence, the Celtics still have All Star Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown averaging over 24 points per game a piece. Conversely, the Grizzlies are also without their second leading scorer from last year, Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee), and will need their role players to step up to be competitive.

Despite playing on the second night of back-to-back games, I’m betting the Celtics against the short-handed Grizzlies.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics are 2-2 and battle-tested after facing the Bucks, the Nets and the Pacers twice to start the season.

Despite the absence of Kemba Walker at the point, the Celtics have several capable point guards in Marcus Smart, Jeff Teague and rookie Payton Pritchard, along with ball handling wings like Brown and Tatum who can get their own shots.

Despite playing mostly off the ball in his first three games, Pritchard impressed against the Pacers Tuesday night in a Boston win with his poise in the pick-and-roll. Pritchard gives the Celtics another smart and physical guard who defends well and can also distribute the ball to get the rim-running bigs like Thompson and Williams more involved.

While Pritchard’s emergence in the last two games against the Pacers has been encouraging, the Celtics have also seen their star wings step up in Walker’s absence.

Brown is averaging career highs in shot attempts, field goal percentage, assists, offensive rebounds and points. Tatum picked up where he left off last season and has continued to be an elite shooter and scorer while also leading the team with 9.3 rebounds per game. If this pair plays well against the Grizzlies, the Celtics should cruise to victory.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Morant and JJJ absences are concerning for the Grizzlies. Through three games, Morant was fifth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating and is the team’s leading scorer and best facilitator. JJJ was the team’s best stretch big man and second-leading scorer from last year.

After his injury in the bubble, the Grizzlies fell off and lost their hold on the eight seed. Memphis only has one other true point guard on the roster (Tyus Jones).

Jones played 35 minutes in the win on Monday and was listed as out for Wednesday as of Tuesday night (he is the only player listed on the injury report without the cause of injury, and his status is worth monitoring). You can use our Labs Insiders tool to see the likelihood of every questionable player suiting up.

Other versatile ball-handling options like Justice Winslow (out indefinitely) and DeAnthony Melton (out due to COVID-19 protocols) are unavailable. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Grizzlies have logged 140 non-garbage-time possessions without Morant on the floor with a poor offensive rating of 93.6.

Whether Jones plays or not, this sets up for increased usage by Kyle Anderson as a point-forward along with more shots for Dillon Brooks.

Anderson has impressed recently as he set career highs in points (20 and 28) in his last two games while dancing to the beat of his slow drum. He has been efficient as he has shot 50% from the field on 13.3 shots per game (despite never attempting more than 6.4 shots per game in any of his first six seasons) and has made 7 of 17 threes (41.2%).

Brooks hasn’t been as efficient as he is averaging 19.7 points on 18.7 shots per game. Brooks is the best bad-shot maker on the team, but he continues to take too many low-percentage shots. Against a team like the Celtics with quality perimeter defenders like Brown and Smart, Brooks will have to make some tough shots, but he needs to make better decisions for the Grizzlies to cover.

The lone advantage the Grizzlies will have on the Celtics is in the post with center Jonas Valanciunas, who is bigger than any of the centers that Boston can throw at him (Tristan Thompson, Daniel Theis and Robert Williams) and will need to have a big night scoring and creating second chance opportunities if Memphis hopes to pull the upset.

Another cause for concern for the Grizzlies has been the surprising and sad deterioration of Brandon Clarke’s shooting form. After impressing as a rookie and shooting 35.9% from three and 75.9% from the free throw line, Clarke has made just 1 of 4 threes (25%) and 3 of 8 free throws this season (37.5%) with a different looking shot. I’m a fan of Clarke and hope he turns this around sooner than later because I believe he has a bright future ahead, but I wouldn’t count on his return to form Wednesday.

Celtics-Grizzlies Pick

The Celtics should have no problem beating the shorthanded Grizzlies in Boston Wednesday night. The Celtics have the better talent and chemistry and have played only contenders. On the other hand, the Grizzlies have lost two games by double digits and barely eked out an overtime win over the shorthanded Nets (without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie).

The Grizzlies will need monster games from Brooks and Anderson to win, and I simply don’t see both of them doing that against Boston’s perimeter defense. Other question marks surrounding Clarke’s shooting form and Melton’s absence mean that the Grizzlies will need players like Grayson Allen to step up.

Although I don’t normally love laying this many points, I lean toward the Celtics -9 but wouldn’t lay more than 11. I would also consider a first half bet on the Celtics up to -5, but at the time of writing early Wednesday, no such odds on the first half are available.

Alternatively, there is better value on FanDuel to bet on the Celtics to win the first quarter and the game at -145, and I would bet this down to -165.

Bet: Celtics to win the first quarter and the game -145 (bet to -165)

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

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