Insider Insight: SuperBook Hoops Insider John Martin says the Grizz-Lakeshow series is going the distance.
April 14, 2023
Got your popcorn?
Oh, this is going to be good. It’s not your typical two-seven matchup. This one has more – much, much more.
Ja. Ja’s dad. King James versus Dillon Brooks. Jack. Maybe even a little Shannon Sharpe?
Don’t take our word for it. Just look at the series price: L.A. +115, Memphis -135. And while you’re there, take a look around the rest of the playoff picture; you’ll notice that the Grizzlies-Lakers matchup has the narrowest price margin of any series thus far. Don’t forget, this is a No. 2 against a No. 7.
“This certainly feels like the right price when you consider the Lakers aren’t really that dynamic offensively, as we saw against the Timberwolves,” says John Martin, a Memphis sports talk host and columnist, “and the Grizzlies have home-court advantage at FedExForum, where they win an NBA-best 87 percent of the time.”
Why so close though?
“With the Grizzlies as thin as they are in the front court – no Steven Adams or Brandon Clarke – I do expect the Lakers to be heard from in this series,” he adds. “It will probably feel a lot like the Timberwolves game where so much hinges on Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s ability to stay in the game and not get in foul trouble.
“I think it does go the distance. but the Grizzlies get it done at home in Game 7.”
In a series that’s loaded with star power, Martin believes the edge will ultimately be determined by the whistle. Ja Morant typically gets a good one, as does LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the guys who don’t might make all the difference.
“Ja Morant is going to put a lot of pressure on the Lakers’ interior and has historically gotten a pretty good whistle. Lebron and A.D. will also get their fair share,” he says. “Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr., however, both come into the series in the Top-20 of most fouls committed in the league. So, if that tracks, it will be a difficult series for the Grizzlies to win. They don’t have another plus-perimeter-defender or much depth at all inside.”
In other words, the key for the Lakers will be to get Brooks and Jackson Jr. in foul trouble. The key for the Grizzlies will be to keep them out of foul trouble. Stopping the Grizzlies from running and playing in open space will also be key for L.A. Meanwhile, Memphis will want the Lakers inconsistent backcourt to open things up and not settle into a halfcourt game.
“Those keys are pretty interconnected,” Martin says of the contrasting styles both teams prefer.
Game 1, a marquee Sunday afternoon matinee, will kick things off with the Grizzlies favored by 3.5 at home.
“I think Memphis -3.5 is probably the way to go in Game 1, though I’d be careful if it climbs too much higher,” Martin says. “The Grizzlies are the better team overall in my view, so in Game 1, where they’re trying to set the tone for the series, and being at home, I would take anything inside two possessions.”
Friday Night Trio
Three bets worth considering when the weekend kicks off
Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
Kaseya Center – Miami, FL
7:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Miami -5.5
Win and you’re in. The Bulls and Heat will battle for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The winning team is granted the chance to go head-to-head in a seven-game series with the Bucks. Neither team was expected to be in this position.
Miami was a five-point favorite against Atlanta on Tuesday, but they couldn’t come away with a win. The Hawks, despite being a relatively small team, dominated on the glass as they outrebounded the Heat 68-50 overall and 22-6 offensively. This is an area that needs to drastically improve as they play the Bulls, a team with much more size than Atlanta.
Chicago wasn’t expected to be in this spot either. Many predicted a loss for them against the No. 9-seeded Raptors. However, the Bulls were able to claw their way back from a 19-point deficit due in large part to Zach Lavine’s 30 second-half points and Toronto’s abysmal free-throw shooting.
Toronto was 18-of-36 as a team from the foul line, which is just 50 percent. The Raptors shot 14 more free throws than the Bulls, but made the same amount. That same thing, though, is extremely unlikely to happen against the Heat.
Miami is one of the best free throw shooting teams in the NBA. In fact, they set a record this season when they went a perfect 40-of-40 from the line on Jan. 10 against the Thunder. In addition, they went 80 percent from the line in the matchup against Atlanta.
So, who has the edge between Chicago and Miami? The line leans towards the Heat, but their struggles against the Hawks are beginning to stir some doubt.
The Bulls, on the other hand, played their best basketball of the season in the second half against the Raptors. In addition, Lavine has the hottest hand in the league at the moment.
It does make a difference that the game is in Miami, but home-court didn’t seem to matter for either of these teams before, so why should it now? Expect a close game but put your money on the Bulls; they are playing better basketball.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Chicago M/L (+185)
Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves
Target Center – Minneapolis, MN
9:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Minnesota -5.5
These two young teams, with tons of talent and loads of potential, will square off against each other on Friday night. It should be a doozy, providing a glimpse into the NBA’s future.
The Thunder are the league’s second-youngest team, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting this far. All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and 20-year-old Josh Giddey have been their best players. In their game against the No. 9-seeded Pelicans, the duo combined for 63 points, as Gilgeous-Alexander had 32 and Giddey had 31. Giddey also finished just a single rebound shy of a triple-double.
But it wasn’t just them. Lu Dort also had a nice performance, as he added 27 points of his own. It was an impressive win by Oklahoma City and one that was not expected. They were a 5.5-point underdog, but ended up winning by five.
The Timberwolves, on the other hand, were fully expected to be here. They were able to keep it close with LeBron James and the Lakers in the 7-vs-8 matchup but ended up losing by six points in overtime.
They did so, however, without Rudy Gobert, the rebounding machine they acquired from the Jazz earlier in the year. Gobert was suspended from the team for one game after getting in an altercation with his teammate, Kyle Anderson. The drama appears to be resolved between the two Timberwolves starters, but who knows if it will have an effect on the game.
Minnesota is now favored by 5.5 points against the Thunder and will be at home. This season, the Timberwolves are 22-19 on their court, while the Thunder are just 16-25 on the road.
These two squads have played each other four times this season, with the Timberwolves winning three out of four. However, the last time they played each other was all the way back in December. Given that, it’s extremely hard to predict the outcome of this game.
The only thing to look at is who wants it more. The answer to that is the Thunder.
At the beginning of the season, they were projected to win just 22 games and have yet another lottery pick in the draft. Instead, the young and talented team won 40 games and has a chance to be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. Everything to play for and nothing to lose.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves were expected to do much better. They acquired Gobert and added him to a team that already had Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony-Towns, two All Stars. In fairness, they didn’t finish all that bad. At 42-40, they were just three games away from the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. But they were expected to be better, and they weren’t.
Now, it just feels like they are wasting time and risking injuries to their star players, all for the eighth seed. There’s a big difference between perspectives. The Thunder never dreamed of making the playoffs, thus doing so would be a massive accomplishment. The No. 8 seed for the Timberwolves, though, feels like they came up short of what they were expected to do.
The Thunder have the better mentality going into this game and the firepower to win it as well. It may seem risky to pick a No. 10 seed on the road, but that’s where things are leaning.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Oklahoma City M/L (+185)
Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators
Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN
8:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Colorado -1.5 (+120)
The Central Division crown is on the line. The Stars are currently in the lead with 108 points, but the Avalanche can steal it with a win against Nashville on Friday night. And they likely will.
The Predators have been officially knocked out of playoff contention and now have nothing to play for in their final game of the regular season. Colorado has everything to play for, however. The Avs are looking to capture a division title, the No. 2 seed and an easier road to the Western Conference Final. Everything.
They will have to do so without star defenseman Cale Makar, who is battling a lower body injury. However, with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanan on the ice, two skaters with more than 100 points on the season, a win is almost guaranteed.
In February, the Avalanche were teetering with a wild card spot. Now, they have a chance to win the division. They are currently the second favorites to win the Stanley Cup, behind only the Bruins.
This game against Nashville feels like a playoff game, but for one team only. When that happens, when implications are on the line for just half of the participants, upsets are rarely seen.
Expect the Avs to roll through the Predators on Friday night
Norm LaChatier’s pick: Colorado M/L (-215)
Pairing the Final Four matchups
- Chicago Bulls M/L (+185)
- Oklahoma City Thunder M/L (+185)
It’s been a wacky play-in tournament thus far, with three out of the four road teams winning outright. Expect that to continue, with the surprising Bulls and Thunder advancing past teams who aren’t happy to be involved in these do-or-die games.
Jason Schlefsky’s Two-Leg Parlay = +712