NBA Odds & Pick for Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers: How to Value Memphis Without Jonas Valanciunas (Friday, April 23)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard.
- The Grizzlies and Trail Blazers both need wins down the stretch to keep up in the playoff hunt.
- Memphis will be without Jonas Valanciunas, which is a big blow in the paint.
- Austin Wang breaks down where the betting value lies in this Western Conference matchup.
Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers Odds
|Trail Blazers Odds||-2.5|
|Moneyline||+115 / -140|
|Time||Friday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM|
The Memphis Grizzlies continue their long road trip on Friday night when they face off against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. We are in crunch time as the regular season winds down and teams are jockeying for playoff seeding, including these two.
Memphis and Portland will be facing off for the first time this season and play each other twice in the following week. The Trail Blazers are currently the No. 6 seed (32-26), only 2.5 games ahead of the eight-seed Grizzlies (29-28). These three games are extremely meaningful for both teams.
These teams last faced in the bubble, where the Blazers defeated the Grizzlies in a 126-122 thriller to claim the eight seed in the playoffs.
The only problem is that Memphis will be missing its best player, center Jonas Valanciunas, to a concussion. Let’s dig in to see how that affects the betting value on the matchup.
The scrappy Grizzlies continue to outperform market expectations, covering the spread in 16 of their last 21 games. Many folks immediately think of Ja Morant as the face of the franchise, but the Grizzlies’ most effective and valuable player is Valanciunas, who leads the team in Player Efficiency Rating (24.1) and Win Shares (6.0), according to Basketball Reference.
Per NBA Advanced Stats, the Grizzlies lead the league in second-chance points (15.3) and points in the paint (56.0), mostly attributed to Valanciunas’s energy in getting offensive rebounds and his dominance in the post.
In their previous game, the Grizzlies jumped out to a 15-point lead after the first quarter against a Clippers team without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but they slowly squandered it away in a 12-point loss. Memphis severely missed Valanciunas’s energy, experience and leadership against the veteran Clippers squad.
The Grizzlies were happy to welcome Jaren Jackson Jr. back to the lineup for this first time this season against the Los Angeles Clippers. He brings a dynamic skill set to the table as a big man who owns the ability to shoot 3-pointers and defend the paint. However, this will be only his second game back and it takes time to integrate a player of his status back into the lineup. He will be rusty, and I anticipate it may throw off the chemistry for the Grizzlies.
When the Grizzlies lost their previous game on the road and are underdogs on the road, they are 5-17 (22.7%) against the spread since the 2018-19 season, per the Sports Data Query Language database. They have not historically performed well in this bounce-back spot on the road.
Portland Trail Blazers
After a strong start to the season, the Trail Blazers have been struggling of late, losing seven of their last nine games. They really need to turn it around and regain some momentum for the playoffs.
In their previous two games, the game was decided by the last shot and the Trail Blazers suffered two one-point losses against Western Conference rivals Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. Their game against the Nuggets had 26 lead changes and ended in heartbreaking fashion, so I will look to them to bounce back against the Grizzlies, especially with Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic back in the lineup. Nurkic should be able to dominate the paint and boards with Valanciunas out.
The Grizzlies won’t have an answer for the Trail Blazers 3-point shooting either, as Memphis ranks second in the league in 3-point attempt rate (46% of shots) and the eighth-best 3-point percentage (37.7%). The Grizzlies defense has not been a strong suit as of late, ranking 25th in Defensive Rating (115.3) in the league in their last 10 games, per NBA Advanced Stats.
This season, the Trail Blazers are 7-1 (87.5%) ATS after suffering two consecutive losses when Lillard plays, per the SDQL Database. Lillard and the Trail Blazers typically bounce back strong after these losses, especially with so much at stake.
Grizzlies-Trail Blazers Pick
I will continue to fade this Grizzlies team without their big man Valanciunas. I expect the experience of Trail Blazers to overpower the young, inexperienced Grizzlies.
I expect the Trail Blazers to come out with some more fire after their recent heartbreaking losses. With other teams like the Mavericks and Grizzlies hot on their tail in the playoff race, I see them playing with a sense of urgency. Finally, I think the fatigue of the Grizzlies in midst of their long road trip will impact their play
My recommendation is a play on the Trail Blazers to get the win and the cover at home. My predicted score for this game is 117-112 and I would play this line up to -3.
Pick: Trail Blazers -2.5
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