The Pick: Grizzlies 96-87
All signs here point to a Kings win. They haven’t traveled in over a week, and they will have the best player on the court, not to mention that the struggling Grizzlies are in the midst of a four-game road trip and could be looking past this game at Monday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers, the team they beat in the playoffs last season.
The Grizzlies are going to win. Why do I say that? While DeMarcus Cousins is supremely talented, he is only one played. He leads the Kings in points, rebounds, FTA, steals, blocks and PER. I’m aware that the Grizzlies have struggled as a team defensively, but a roster that has Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol should be able to handle an offense that relies as much on one player as any in the NBA.
Cousins doesn’t come without his flaws (two turnovers for every assist and 4.4 fouls per night) and I expect those to be evident against a Memphis team that, if nothing else, will battle in the paint all night long.
On the offensive end, Randolph showed signs of life in their last game that leave me encouraged. He gashed the Los Angeles Lakers for 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting (6-of-6 from the free throw line) and 11 rebounds as Memphis got back to its roots and scored nearly half its points in the painted area.
In the last game, Mike Conley poured in 29 points (8-of-9 shooting from inside the 3-point line), leading me to believe that this Grizzlies offense is much closer to clicking than their 94 points per game would indicate. The Kings boast one of the worst 3-point shooting defenses both in terms of makes and percentage, making a Mike Miller and/or Jerryd Bayless coming out party very possible.
Fun Fact: The Kings are turning the ball over less than any team in the league, but the Grizzlies have two players (Allen and Conley) that rank in the top 20 in steals per game.