For the first time in NBA history, there’s the play-in series between the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, Portland Trail Blazers, and the No. 9 seed Memphis Grizzlies. The play-in series has a maximum of two games and it can be finished Saturday if Portland wins.
The Trail Blazers need a win over Memphis to qualify for the 2020 NBA Playoffs. On the other side, the Grizzlies have to beat Portland twice in a row to recapture the eighth seed. The excitements are guaranteed Saturday at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, so we bring you all-important betting tips and trends along with our best betting pick.
The Grizzlies are without Justise Winslow (hip), Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee), and Tyus Jones (knee). The Trail Blazers miss Rodney Hood (Achilles), Trevor Ariza (opted out), and Caleb Swanigan (opted out).
Portland is listed as a firm 6-point fave on BetAmerica. The Trail Blazers are -225 moneyline favorites on the same platform, while the Grizzlies are +215 underdogs on BetMGM. The total has been set at 233.5 points on Sugarhouse.
Considering Jaren Jackson’s injury, I’m not surprised to see the Trail Blazers as strong favorites in this one.
What’s at Stake?
The Grizzlies are playing with their backs against the wall. If they lose Saturday, the Grizzlies are going home, while the Trail Blazers will have another chance if they lose this game.
Both teams won their regular-season finale last Thursday. The Grizzlies beat the Milwaukee Bucks 119-106 to snap a two-game skid. The Trail Blazers barely outlasted the Brooklyn Nets 134-133 to extend their winning streak to three games.
The Grizzlies and Trail Blazers already met each other in the bubble on the last day of July, and the Trail Blazers defeated the Grizzlies 140-135 in overtime. It was their second meeting of the season, as the Grizzlies beat the Blazers 111-104 back in February.
The previous duel between Memphis and Portland was tied at 124-124 at the end of the regulation. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 11 points in overtime to help the Trail Blazers top the Grizzlies.
Portland had a great shooting night, making 53.8% of its field goals and 43.3% of its 3-pointers. Memphis shot 45.2% from the field and 31.7% from beyond the arc.
Since December 2016, the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers split their 12 encounters, and neither team has recorded two straight wins in that stretch. The under has hit in four of their previous six matchups. The Grizzlies are 6-5-1 ATS in their last 12 games against Portland.
Damian Lillard is a key guy for the Trail Blazers, and he proved it a few times in the bubble. Over his last three outings, Dame has scored 154 points in the total. He’s dropped 51 points on Philadelphia, 61 on Dallas, and 42 on Brooklyn.
On the other side, Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas had a tremendous Thursday night against the Bucks. Both guys posted triple-doubles, while Dillon Brooks added 31 points. Morant will have a tall task to slow down Lillard, while Valanciunas will battle with Jusuf Nurkic in the paint.
NBA Picks & Bets
Considering the enormous stake, I expect to see a tight battle and a nervous game. On paper, the Trail Blazers are favorites for a reason, but the 6-point spread is too much in a clash like this one.
Therefore, I would rather buy a few points and take the Grizzlies as 8.5-point underdogs than betting on the Trail Blazers to cover a 6-point spread. If you’re looking for greater wages, I suggest you take any team to win by six or fewer points.
The Grizzlies love to play at a fast pace, while both teams have defensive flaws, so wagering on the over is a logical choice. However, when I’ve said that this should be a very nervous matchup due to a huge stake, it means both teams could struggle with shooting, so I would avoid the totals.