The opposing conferences’ eighth-seeds will meet as they try to strengthen their place in the playoff picture. Both are on opposing stretches too, with the Memphis Grizzlies running wild over the past week and the New York Knicks repeatedly dropping close games.
Catch this game tomorrow, 7:30 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: New York Knicks (25-27, 14-10 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG – Elfrid Payton
- SG – Reggie Bullock
- SF – RJ Barrett
- PF – Julius Randle
- C – Nerlens Noel
Though the Knicks are in solid position to remain within the East’s play-in group (7-10 seed), things aren’t looking good as of late. They have lost five of their last six games, three of which had them failing to execute well in the clutch.
Nevertheless, this Tom Thibodeau-stirred squad will continue boasting slow, rhythm-killing pace and aggressive defense. The Knicks are allowing the fewest points per game (104.9 PAPG), and they also rank third in defensive efficiency.
Hopefully, though, the offense can be as competitive. They are at the bottom three in scoring (104.9 PPG) and assists (21.1 APG), and only shoot a mediocre 45.1% from the floor. They’ve also gone below the century mark thrice in their last six.
As always, All-Star Julius Randle (22.9 PPG) and second-year swingman RJ Barrett (17.5 PPG) are the guys to create the most damage. The third scorer and beyond will be a mystery – guards Alec Burks and Reggie Bullock, and point guard Elfrid have rotated in that role, as well as the recently returned Derrick Rose.
ROAD TEAM: Memphis Grizzlies (26-23, 14-9 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG – Ja Morant
- SG – Grayson Allen
- SF – Dillon Brooks
- PF – Kyle Anderson
- C – Jonas Valanciunas
Like the Knicks, the Grizzlies are also roaming around the play-in spots in their conference – this time, the West. They are looking to gain more steam as the regular season’s last stretches are approaching. Confidence is rising now as they head to tomorrow’s game holding a four-game winning streak.
In the hot run, it’s the Grizzlies’ offense that’s clicking more than anything. They are scoring 122.8 points and draining 17.3 threes on 50.4% shooting, and are winning by an average of 14.5 points. What’s also interesting is it’s in spite of Ja Morant scoring less than usual. The 2020 Rooke of the Year is only posting 12 points and playing under 30 minutes per game in that span.
With Morant quiet, three guys are stepping up to fill the void – Jonas Valanciunas (18.5 PPG, 11 RPG), Dillon Brooks (18.5 PPG), and Grayson Allen (17 PPG). Kyle Anderson, meanwhile, is keeping pace with his versatile play (13 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.3 BPG) – all are in their last four.
Both are on a roll battling the odds, with the Knicks winning three straight ATS, and the Grizzlies doubling it with six in-a-row.
Since the Knicks are at home and have some urgency courtesy of the losing streak (-2), they should be able to cover the spread.
I expect the Knicks to dictate the pace better, which means it will likely be slow and the possessions are limited. Go with the under 213.5.