On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers will host the Memphis Grizzlies in a nationally televised matchup at Staples Center. As usual, the NBA odds are out for what is expected to be a thrilling back-and-forth affair.
The Lakers (20-6) come in as winners of six straight games, though none of their recent performances have been pretty. In fact, the champs are playing their worst stretch of NBA basketball of the season, having needed overtime in each of the past three games to close out wins against the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder (twice).
The biggest question mark entering Friday’s game is whether Anthony Davis (Achilles tendonosis) will return to action after missing both Thunder games earlier in the week. AD has practiced the last couple days, but the team is being extra-precautious with their superstar. Guard Alex Caruso (hand strain) and author Jared Dudley (calf), who hasn’t played since Jan. 8, are listed as probable.
Ja Morant and the Grizzlies (10-10) visit downtown L.A. having lost four of five games. Still, the young team is feisty and has the plucky confidence to challenge the LakeShow.
According to the NBA injury report, Brandon Clarke (calf soreness), D’Anthony Melton (shoulder soreness), and Desmond Bane (personal reasons) will be out, along with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow, who remain out for an extended period of time.
Friday will mark the third matchup between the Western Conference foes this season. L.A. took two wins at the FedExForum on Jan. 3 and 5. LeBron James put up 22 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists in the first game as the Lakers rolled 108-94.
All-Angles: LeBron James and Ja Morant both toss alley-oops to themselves off the glass!
GRIZZLIES/LAKERS – tonight at 10pm/et on ESPN pic.twitter.com/TiN9SV4Ajp
— NBA (@NBA) February 12, 2021
Two days later, Taylor Jenkins’ group hung tough, but the champs eked out a 94-92 W.
However, those games won’t tell us much about the upcoming clash, as Morant sat out both contests with an ankle sprain.
Like the Lakers, Memphis clearly isn’t playing its best basketball during the dog days of a taxing NBA season. Prior to a win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, the Grizzlies dropped games to the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors by an average margin of 13.5 points.
With that said, here’s how sportsbooks have set the opening NBA odds for the Lakers-Grizzlies.
NBA Odds: Grizzlies-Lakers Odds
Grizzlies +7 (-109), ML +240
Lakers -7 (-111), ML-285
Over 219 PTS (-110)
Under 219 PTS (-110)
Why the Grizzlies Could Cover the Spread
On Wednesday, Memphis lit up the Hornets, 130-114, to break their four-game losing spell. Kyle Anderson led the way with 27 points, while Dillon Brooks added 20. For the 2020-21 NBA season, Morant is leading Memphis in points (18.3) and assists (7.7).
One potential advantage for Memphis versus LA, on paper, is their ability to score inside. The Grizzlies rank second in points in the paint per game (53.4) and second in second-chance points (15.4). With or Without Davis, the Lakers have not protected the rim or defended the interior effectively, especially of late.
Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas (15.7 points, 11.1 rebounds per game) leads the team in Player Efficiency Rating (21.47), so he should pose a lofty challenge for ex-Grizzly Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell.
The Lakers are just 2-7 against the spread in their past nine games, and they could show fatigue coming off three straight OT nights. If the Lakers succumb to another sluggish start, the Grizz should have an opportunity to keep the game within striking defense.
Why the Lakers Could Cover the Spread
The Lakers are fully aware that, as the defending champions, they almost always get their opponents’ best shots, especially young teams like the Grizzlies.
“These are the toughest games to play, when you have a sub .500 team that comes in with guys out” head coach Frank Vogel said after the OKC win on Wednesday. “Everybody on their team is getting extra opportunity … we’ve seen that with (Detroit and OKC). We certainly need to be better; we’re not making things easy on ourselves. But at the end of the day, we’re doing enough to grind things out in the second half and do what we need to do to get that W.”
On the flip side, the Grizzlies have the 27th ranked defense in basketball over the past two weeks, per the Action Network, and may present a golden opportunity for the Lakers to break their cold streak from deep (30.6 percent in their last six games).
Final Grizzlies-Lakers Prediction & Pick
One of these nights, the Lakers are going to wake up from their midseason malaise (despite the winning) and run over an unlucky opponent to regain their mojo.
Whether AD plays or not, the Lakers will take advantage of a weak Grizzlies defense and score at ease, while their staunch D will force Morant and company into a rough night from the field.
L.A. will earn its seventh straight win, and it’s likely they won’t need OT to put this one away. In fact, James will get some much-needed rest in garbage time.
Ten of the last 11 Grizzlies-Lakers matchups have hit the under (per NBC Sports), and that trend is expected to continue on Friday.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION FOR LAKERS-GRIZZLIES: LA 114, Memphis 98 (UNDER 219)