The top sportsbooks have released their NBA odds for tonight’s game between Golden State and Memphis. Both teams are playing without their biggest star. For the Warriors, Stephen Curry is out with a foot injury.
Curry has reportedly ditched the walking boot — you could see him at the Duke/Texas Tech game without one. But he is far from being able to play. For Memphis, Ja Morant suffered a knee injury and he is also far from being able to play.
The way to bet this game is clear because both teams have dealt with their respective key injury with radically different levels of success. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.
Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Monday, March 28, 2022 – 08:00 PM EDT at FedExForum
One would immediately think that Ja Morant’s absence would deal a significant blow to Memphis. After all, one complained earlier in the season about Dillon Brooks’ absence. Brooks is important to Memphis, particularly for his on-ball defending and his toughness in isolation.
Morant, though, is more important to his team than Brooks and more important than any other Memphis player and it isn’t even close. He leads the team in points per game, of which he averages 27.6. The next leading scorer on the team is Desmond Bane with 9.4 fewer points per game.
Moreover, he leads Memphis in assists per game. He has 6.7 assists per game while the next-leading Grizzly distributor has 4.3 assists per game. But all of this is an example of how you should not be thinking when evaluating injuries for your Sports Betting because they assume an unrealistic stasis.
By stasis, I mean that such a line of thinking assumes that all else will remain the same when the injured player exits the equation. In such a case, then of course Memphis would suffer unbearably by Morant’s absence.
But the reality is that a lot of other Grizzly players are stepping up. The key trend to note is that the Grizzlies are enjoying a 4-0 ATS run without Ja. This year, they have lost only very rarely without Ja in the lineup. Their current run reflects their extended success without Ja.
They are not only covering games, but they are doing so by ridiculous margins. First, favored by 12.5 points, they beat Houston by 24 points. When dogged by a point, they beat Brooklyn by 12. As 11.5-point favorites, they decimated Indiana by 30. Most recently, they beat defending champion Milwaukee by 25 even though the Bucks, with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup, were favored.
While playing and winning without Ja is a team effort, one Grizzly, in particular, deserves recognition: De’Anthony Melton. His 10.4 points per game total this entire season reflects his lesser role on the team when Ja is available.
However, in these four games, he has scored 16, then 23, then 19, and most recently 24. Morant is known for his quickness and explosiveness in transition. Based on play type frequency, Melton is also heavily involved in Memphis’ transition game as are lots of other Grizzly players.
Of course, Melton’s PPP (points per possession) in this play type is not as high as Morant’s because Morant’s physical skill set is unique and he flashes it, particularly in these cases where his team is on the move. But Melton can also shoot. During this four-game run, he is 21 of 34 from deep.
His shooting efficiency has propelled him to a 45.7 three-point percentage this month. While his overall season average has still not reached the 41.2 three-point percentage that he earned last year, his current shooting has established him on the right path.
Conversely, Morant’s three-point shooting was never good. He improved slightly in this respect this year but it still lags clearly behind Melton. Melton’s supremacy from deep makes up for his inferiority in transition relative to Ja, although it should be said that Melton is still effective and efficient in Memphis’ transition attack.
Missing Curry and More
Unlike Memphis, Golden State does miss its superstar. With Stephen Curry out of the lineup, the Warriors are suffering a 1-4 ATS run. While I like Jordan Poole and see his development as very promising for his future, he is simply being asked to do too much by himself.
Whereas Memphis can rely on Morant and a host of other players like Desmond Bane, Brooks, and several more, Golden State has really needed Poole to take a lot of shots and orchestrate a lot of offense.
Poole has not been completely without help, though. Klay Thompson has been looking a bit more like his recent self, although even his most recent shooting outputs — most notably, he shot nine of 16 from deep on Friday against Atlanta — have still not sufficed to help Golden State.
Thompson, anyway, will likely rest for this game. Draymond Green, too, is likely to join Thompson on the bench tonight. If Thompson was returning to his old self, we probably won’t get to see him shoot a lot of threes tonight. Likewise, Green’s stalwart rim protection and overall defense and his evolved abilities as a distributor will probably be missing.
A Warrior team that is already struggling to be competitive without Curry — the only teams, during its current ATS, losing run, that it has remained within four points of are San Antonio and Orlando — will miss two more key players.
Whereas Memphis thrives without Morant, repeatedly covering every game with ease, Golden State’s lack of talent is repeatedly murdering its chances of covering the spread.
Know for your NBA picks that recent history and personnel analysis suggest a strong Memphis cover tonight.
NBA Pick: Grizzlies -10.5 (-112) with FanDuel