The Los Angeles Clippers (34-22, 13-13 away) storm into the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee to take on the Memphis Grizzlies (32-23, 19-7 home,) with the two teams entrenched in the Western Conference playoff fight beginning play at 8:00 PM ET tonight.
The Clippers find themselves just a half game out of first place in the Pacific Division coming into tonight’s game, with the top spot currently occupied by the Los Angeles Lakers, who will also be in play tonight at New Orleans. Winning 8 of their last 10 games and 2 straight, the Clippers have been playing some of their best basketball at precisely the right time, and will need to keep playing better on the road to fend off the advances of the surging Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis, while not able to track down the San Antonio Spurs who have run away with the Southwest Division after 11 straight wins, still finds themselves in a playoff positioning battle, currently 5th in the Western Conference. Just 1 1/2 games behind the Clippers heading into tonight’s meeting, a win on their home court could find them with momentum to take over the Clippers’ #4 spot in the West, and also help them pull out of the fight for the 5th though 8th seeds, with all teams in those positions currently just 2 1/2 games apart at the most.
Since the last meeting between these two teams back on March 24th (a 101-85 win for the Clippers at home), both teams have been playing just about at their best form on the season. The Clippers ran off a 6-game winning streak starting with that win over Memphis, putting aside concerns over head coach Vinny Del Negro’s job security, and have won 8 of the last 9 games as well since. The Grizzlies on the other hand took that March 24th loss in stride, their 3rd straight at the time, and have since turn things around losing only 2 games since to go 7-2 in their last 9. In the last game of the three-game season series between these two clubs set for tonight, the Clippers look to sweep the series with Memphis for the first time in 5 years, but will have to do it with a trip away from home and to a hostile environment in Memphis, where the Grizzlies have played the best ball of their year and have 10 of their last 12 games, including 4 straight.
Memphis’ defense has been a crucial key to their recent success, as while the team hasn’t been shooting the ball all too well since their last loss at Los Angeles (just under 43 percent from the floor), they’ve played outstanding defense, averaging under 92 points per game to opposing offenses. Memphis has continued to play dominant in the paint specifically, behind Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but has gotten a big boost from the recent acquisition of Gilbert Arenas, who has been hot from 3-point range and has averaged 11 points per game in his last 4 contests. With the quick and shifty Mike Conley running the show well on both offense and defense (leading the team in assists and 2nd in the NBA in steals, ironically to L.A.’s Chris Paul), and Memphis getting well-rounded play from the likes of O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies have a deep roster that even without the services of Tony Allen tonight (10.5 ppg), should have enough skill around the floor to contend with the red-hot Clippers coming in.
Los Angeles on the other hand continues to excel behind their two biggest and brightest stars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. With Griffin averaging north of 20 points and 11 rebounds per game, he’s obviously the star attraction still for the Clippers, but Chris Paul continues to be the floor general that has made Griffin’s increased production possible, and the guy who has improved the play of the rest of the Clippers around them as well. Though being without the services of fellow point guard Mo Williams tonight (13.6 ppg) will certainly have an effect on Lob City, they get a break with Memphis also missing a key component on Tony Allen, and find themselves very well matched up against the Grizzlies on the road tonight. While Memphis may be collectively bigger than L.A., the Clips are physical and well-rounded as well, and have been getting step-up play from shooting guard Nick Young (15.2 ppg), Caron Butler (12.5 ppg) and Randy Foye (10.6 ppg). With 7 players in double figures on the year, Lob City spreads the scoring wealth around well, something that will be a major factor tonight against the Grizzlies.
Betting Lines for Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers at Betonline Sportsbook
Memphis, with home court advantage, sees themselves as the favorite tonight with -175 odds straight up while the visiting Clippers come in as +155 underdogs in this road match-up. The Grizzlies are clearly a good looking pick straight up at home, where they’ve won 10 of their last 12, while the Clippers although having won 2 straight away from home, lost the previous 3 games on the road which finds them at 13-13 overall away from Staples Center. While Los Angeles has won the first two meetings of this series, you can bet Memphis will be anxious to not allow a season sweep to occur on home court tonight.
Against the spread, Memphis gets 4 1/2 points as a favorite, with -105 odds. While Memphis is 19-7 overall at home this year, they are just 13-13 ATS. Los Angeles on the other hand will have a 4 1/2 point cushion as underdogs, at -115 odds. Los Angeles has won the previous two meetings between the two teams by an average of 11.5 points, but they are 13-12-1 against the spread away from home. That said, L.A. has covered the spread in two straight road games while beating Dallas and Sacramento over the past week.
Lastly, on the total points line at Betonline Sportsbook, the over/under for tonight’s clash stands at 186 points. With both teams finding success on defense lately, the under wager makes a tantalizing pick, especially considering that Memphis has been averaging 91.4 points to opposing defenses since meeting with Los Angeles, after giving up nearly 100 points per game to the Clippers on average during their two losses this season. Look for Memphis to be intent on limiting the effectiveness of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin first and foremost, and for one team or another to have a solid defensive outing that helps keep the final score down tonight.
Expect a great match-up between two of the Western Conference’s most talented and well rounded teams, and grab the best-looking bets to be had at the best online sportsbook at Betonline today!