NBA Predictions and Best Bets: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Picks
When: Saturday, October 23, 10:30 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: NBA League Pass
Spread: Clippers -3.5
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Prediction
The moment the Grizzlies inked Jaren Jackson Jr to a nine-figure extension on the eve of the regular season, it was confirmation of what most of the league already assumed: they were all in on this core, and now it was only about seeing how high it could rise without adding another headliner.
If the last two seasons are any indication, no one should doubt them. For two years in a row, the Grizzlies have exceeded expectations, first making it to the Orlando bubble’s play-in-game after they were picked to be one of the worst teams in the league, and then last year, when they didn’t regress like many expected, and instead beat the red hot Warriors to grab the West’s final playoff spot.
The driving force behind that success, of course, is Ja Morant. Last seen putting 47 points on the league’s best defense in the postseason, Morant dropped a 37, 6 & 6 line in an opening night win against the Cavs. He wasn’t alone either: Des Bane and De’Anthony Melton both topped 20 points, and Jackson Jr was a force on defense, contributing four blocks and looking healthy in the process.
At the same time, this was a one-point game with under two minutes to go at home against what is supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league. The game – and last season’s 14th ranked net rating – was a reminder that at the end of the day, the Grizzlies might still just be an average NBA team.
They’re also clearly missing second-leading scorer Dillon Brooks, who is still recovering from a broken hand. As a result of his absence, they needed to rely on the likes of John Konchar and rookie Zaire Williams to play rotation minutes at the wing.
The Grizzlies were able to get away with that downgrade against the Cavs, but the Clippers will be a different story. After falling behind by 19 early, Los Angeles actually led the Warriors by eight points in the fourth quarter before a five-minute scoreless streak did them in in their opener. Even so, they were neck and neck with the team that has looked as impressive as any in the league through the first few games.
It’s a testament to the infrastructure that remains in LA even without Kawhi Leonard, who is likely out for the year with a torn ACL. Eric Bledsoe appears reinvigorated, going off for 22 points while sharing ball-handling duties with Reggie Jackson. Paul George still looks good enough to keep defenses honest as a top target. Perhaps most importantly, the Clips have found something in the newly extended reserve Terrence Mann, who played 39 minutes and helped diminish the impact of LA’s somewhat thin bench.
Mann played as much as he did because Nicolas Batum was out, but with a day-to-day designation, there’s a chance he plays here. Regardless, the Clippers are the more veteran team and should be hyped for their home opener. They also have the best player and won’t be unnerved by adversity. Moreover, the line here is small enough to feel comfortable taking them.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies Pick
- Clippers -3.5 (-110)
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks Prediction
When: 6:00 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: NBA League Pass
Early season games are dangerous because everyone is trying, no one is tanking, and every team has a hope that it can at least get into the play-in conversation. After a respectable
showing on opening night against the Grizzlies and a second game in which they were neck and neck with the Hornets through three quarters, there’s no reason why the Cavs shouldn’t feel hopeful about their potential as well. Unfortunately, they’re running into a buzz saw here.
That might be a slightly bold description of the Hawks, even if they did just dismantle Luka Doncic and the Mavs on opening night. In a league where the defending champs waited all of two days to get blown out, no one is infallible, and any team can lose if they’re not ready to play.
Here’s the thing about these Hawks, though: they’re not only good, but they’re deep, and in their depth, they have a relentlessness that should make them a dangerous regular-season team for as long as they remain healthy.
Case in point: Trae Young, Atlanta’s offensive engine, was just 6-for-16 in a game the Hawks won by 26 points over a pseudo-Western Conference contender. They were able to withstand a slightly off night because they go 12 deep with quality NBA players who can contribute to winning basketball. More importantly, they’ve cornered the market on the most valuable asset in the league: sweet-shooting, playmaking wings.
All this is to say, take the benefit that comes with a smaller spread than it should be because it’s so early, and neither team has fully established its reputation quite yet. Nevertheless, the Hawks are a few levels above the Cavs, and they’ll show as much on Saturday night.
Cavaliers vs. Hawks Pick
- Hawks -7.5 (-110)