Heat vs. Grizzlies Odds & Picks: Expect a Return to Grit & Grind Tuesday
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies.
- The Memphis Grizzlies hit the road to face the Miami Heat Tuesday night.
- Both teams have been surging lately, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.
- Austin Wang previews tonight's game and explains why he's focused on the total.
Heat vs. Grizzlies Odds
|+165 / -200
|8 p.m. ET
|NBA League Pass
|Odds as of Tuesday and via BetMGM.
On Tuesday evening, the Miami Heat host the Memphis Grizzlies for their second matchup this season. The Grizzlies won the first game on March 17 in a 89-85 slugfest, but the Heat have since acquired Victor Oladipo and Trevor Ariza, adding two defensive-minded swingmen to an already scary defense.
Both teams are currently surging at the right time: the Heat have won and covered four games in a row and the Memphis Grizzlies have gone 8-1 against the spread in their past nine games.
While I think the Heat will be a force to reckoned with for the remainder of the season, I think this is too many points to be giving the underrated Grizzlies, whom still seem to be embodying a bit of that "grit and grind" mentality from the mid-2010s that would make Zach Randolph and Tony Allen proud.
Since the all-star break, the Heat and Grizzlies are sixth and eighth in Defensive Rating, respectively, per NBA Advanced Stats. Similar to the first game, I expect this game to be a low-scoring affair and I have my sights set on the total.
The Grizzlies have had a mediocre 2020-21 campaign thus far. Morant’s shooting numbers are down in his sophomore season (47.7% to 44.2% from the field, 33.5% to 25.4% from behind the arc) and Jaren Jackson Jr. has yet to play a game. Their record hasn't shown much improvement from previous season, but the Grizzlies are still 29-18 (61.7%) against the spread, showing they are still outperforming market expectations.
Many folks immediately think of Morant as the face of the franchise, but the Grizzlies’ most effective and valuable player is Jonas Valanciunas, who leads the team in Player Efficiency Rating (22.6) and Win Shares (4.4), according to Basketball Reference.
He is carrying on the "grit and grind" legacy, along with other two-way players such as Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke and the pesky Grayson Allen. Clarke is listed as questionable for the game, so keep up with his status using our NBA Insider tool as it will be a big blow if he can't go.
The Grizzlies have had a rough stretch of games post all-star break, including three games against the league-leading Utah Jazz. They did not win any of those games, but they covered two out of three and are battle-tested against some strong teams.I believe their defense can prevail against a Heat team that isn't the strongest on offense.
The Grizzlies play at the sixth-fastest Pace in the league (101.15). Even with that said, they have still gone 24-20-3 (54.5%) to the under this season. They have gone 8-2 to the under in their past 10 games as an underdog, per the SDQL database. They typically let their opponents dictate the tempo and the Heat rank 28th in Pace (97.5) in the league.
Adding Oladipo and Ariza to a team that already includes the defensive-minded trio of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Andre Iguodala is frightening for any opposing team. They are well-equipped with multiple players who can guard all positions on the floor and should instantly be back in the title contender conversation.
Despite being two games above .500 (26-24), the Heat fifth in the competitive Eastern Conference and comfortably in the playoff picture. They have overcome a myriad of injuries and players missing time due to COVID protocols, to put themselves in position to make a late-season push.
Since the all-star break, the Heat allow the second-fewest points in the paint (40.6), per NBA Advanced Stats. This counteracts the Grizzlies who rank first in points in the paint scored (56.4). The Heat are also susceptible to giving up offensive boards, as they are 23rd in opponent Offensive Rebound Percentage (27.2%). Valanciunas is third in the league in offensive rebounds per game (4.1), which is a career-high and I think he should be able to exploit the Heat on rebounding and prevent many fast-break points.
In the two games Oladipo has played for the Heat, he has shot 5-for-21 (23.8%) from the field and has been shooting just 40.4% from the field this season for the three teams (Pacers, Rockets and Heat) he has suited up for.
He has been a hinderance to the offense for each team and couple that against trying to find a chemistry and a fit with his new squad, I can see the Heat struggling to generate enough offense.
With Oladipo on board, I still think the Heat still need time to gel and his high-volume shooting may hurt their overall offense. I think the Heat will also want to be avenging the loss earlier this season by using their strengths on defense to put the clamps on the Grizzlies.
On March 17, their total score was 174. With a total of 217.5, I am backing the under in Tuesday's matchup. My numbers make this fair total 215. I also think the Grizzlies can keep the game competitive in the low-scoring affair and cover the spread.
Pick: Under 217.5 (down to 216)