Grizzlies vs. Warriors Odds, Picks, Prediction: Who to Back in Matchup for 8 Seed Out West (May 16)
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry.
- The eight seed in the Western Conference is on the line when the Grizzlies and Warriors face off on Sunday.
- Both Memphis and Golden State have played their best basketball of the season of late, but only one can gain a huge advantage in the play-in tournament.
- Phillip Kall breaks down the matchup below and gives his best pick for bettors.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this preview was posted last night, indicating that both teams were likely to rest multiple key players. That version has been taken down.
Grizzlies vs. Warriors Odds
|Moneyline||+165 / -200|
|Time||Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via BetMGM|
The Warriors and Grizzlies enter their Sunday matchup tied for the eight seed in the Western Conference. The eight seed gives the winner the ability to win one of two games to break out of the play-in tournament and into the playoffs. The loser of this game will be the ninth, which forces that team to win back-to-back games to make the playoffs.
With so much on the line, this game will have playoff intensity from the beginning. Typically, that means dialed-in defensively and increased patience on offense. For both teams, the intensity on defense has existed all year helping both to top-six Defensive Ratings per NBA.com. The offense will be the side to watch though. Neither ranked higher than 15 in Offensive Rating but both ranked top-10 in pace. Slowing things down could be uncomfortable but it may be what is needed if either team wants to improve offensive efficiency.
As one of three games where both teams have playoff implications on the line, this is a can’t miss game. Let’s dig deeper to see who will end on top and earn the easier path to the playoffs.
Grizzlies’ Offense Picking Up the Pace
The Grizzlies were able to rebound from a 2-5 stretch to end May by winning their past five games. This late run has helped them stay neck and neck with the Warriors.
What changed to bring the Grizzlies back to life was the play of their defense. Since the start of April, this has not been the same ferocious defense we saw to start the year. They dropped way down to 15th in Defensive Rating per NBA.com and fell from the top of the league to 12th in steals per game.
In their past five, the Grizzlies played as they had previously on defense, smothering teams and converting stops into offense. This helped get them back to the fourth-best Defensive Rating during that span. However, this does need to be taken with a grain of salt since the Mavericks were the only team to field an actual starting five. With Stephen Curry playing with a playoff intensity, Memphis will need to prove its recent performance is not a mirage.
While the defense lost its way the past month and a half, the offense was able to hold things together. Memphis’ Offensive Rating improved to 10th during this time. The uptick came despite nearly a four-point drop-off in points-off turnovers per game.
Now that their offense has come together, the Grizzlies need to play to their potential. If the defense can not continue their recent run of success, it’s hard to imagine they will be a survivor at the end of the play-in games.
Golden State Hitting its Stride
An injury to Curry in March sent the Warriors spiraling down the standings in the West. Since he returned to full health, though, Golden State has been on a 15-6 tear to get back to the right side of the play-in game bracket. This run started on April 6, and since then the Warriors 7.8 Net Rating is top in the league per NBA.com.
The questioned leader of this domination is Curry. His 36.7 points per game have been the highest in that time and helped him earn the NBA scoring title this year. His recent production is largely why Golden State’s offense is 21st on the year but ninth in this stretch.
While Curry’s excellence leads the way, his teammates have been able to make his job a little easier. In this stretch, Golden State is up to the third-best 3-point percentage in the NBA at 39.3%. The Warriors have been middle of the pack all year in terms of shooting, which allowed teams to focus on Curry at the cost of allowing everyone else open looks. If Golden State’s role players continue shooting well, this would not be a team you want to see in the playoffs.
Defensively, the Warriors have maintained high-end production without a big man to anchor the middle. Their ability to use their athleticism on the perimeter allows them to cover the entire and contest every shot. This has helped them to the third-lowest field goal percentage in the NBA.
Golden State has found its formula for success and is riding it as far as possible. These high-leverage games will be a test for the Warriors to show they can handle the pressure and continue to make their shots from deep. If Golden State advances, it will be a team the Suns and Jazz don’t want to see Round 1.
Both these teams have stepped it up toward the end of the regular season. The Grizzlies have been able to get to this point while the statistics show them falling off a little bit. The Warriors, on the other hand, seemingly flipped a switch and have been one of the best in the league of late.
Also in the Warriors’ favor is the experience factor. Golden State leaders, Curry, Green and head coach Steve Kerr, have all participated in highly competitive playoff series throughout the years. This should give the Warriors an edge in preparation and in-game decision making.
Golden State’s ability to continue getting better each week has helped them develop into a juggernaut as the season comes to an end. Memphis has played a balancing act as one side of the court improves the other regresses. If they put it all together I might feel different but they just seem a year away from making noise in the playoffs.
Back Golden State to win and earn the eighth seed.
Pick: Warriors -5 to -7.5