Memphis Grizzlies vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Tuesday, January 04, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
There haven’t been a lot of feel-good stories in the NBA this year, or anywhere else for that matter. But the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers come pretty close. These are two young teams on the rise, stocked with quality talent – or at least they were. Injuries and COVID-19 have whittled both down ahead of Tuesday’s matchup in the Forest City. It’s bad enough that the NBA odds are once again on hold at press time, but there might be some value on the Under once it hits the board; Cleveland opened as 2.5-point home faves at BetMGM.
The Cavaliers (21-16 SU, 25-11-1 ATS) are hurting more than Memphis right now. After an incredible 14-game streak against the spread, they’ve gone 1-3 SU and 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games, all since Ricky Rubio was lost for the season with a torn ACL. This was doubly damaging for Cleveland, given that Collin Sexton also tore up his knee in November.
The situation is bad enough that the Cavs engineered a three-team trade that will bring Rajon Rondo over from the Los Angeles Lakers. Rondo probably won’t be available Tuesday, though; Darius Garland looks like he’ll be thrust back into the lineup after clearing protocol on Monday. Garland has been idle since December 26th, so we can expect him to be a little rusty in his return.
Also out for the Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro (elbow) and Cedi Osman (protocols), a pair of useful wings in their rotation – especially Osman, who has played very well at both ends of the court. However, with Garland back in the fold, the Cavs do have most of their top players available, including the rejuvenated Kevin Love, breakout star Jarrett Allen, and exciting rookie Evan Mobley. Whether Garland can ignite their offense is the question for Tuesday night.
Times have been tough for the Grizzlies (24-14 SU, 23-15 ATS), too, but their long list of missing persons is almost entirely due to COVID-19. Both Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton were expected to clear protocol Monday; Kyle Anderson, Xavier Tillman, and John Konchar, all very useful players, are still on the list.
The Grizz are also playing this game on zero days of rest after upsetting the Brooklyn Nets 118-104 as 6.5-point road dogs. They went under the posted total of 229.5 points; that’s three unders in a row for Memphis, evening their season record for totals at 19 apiece.
This is a balanced team that runs at a fairly brisk pace of 101.5 possessions per game, tied for ninth overall in the league. Not having all these players available appears to be slowing them down, though, and once you factor in the added travel from Brooklyn to Cleveland, we think the under will have a decent shot at making it four straight.
NBA Pick: Under 216.5 (-110) with BetMGM