The Pick: Grizzlies 96-89
Two teams that struggle offensively (neither team is scoring 94 points a night) but stay competitive with solid defense (both rank among the eight best scoring units in the league) square off in Boston in what could be a difficult game to watch. Both teams are dealing with injuries to their best player as the recent Marc Gasol injury cripples an already stagnant Grizzlies defense in a similar fashion that the Rajon Rondo injury has affected the Celtics all season long. That being said, one of these teams has to win this game, and Memphis is a near lock to take care of business tonight.
The Grizz have won four straight road games (the cumulative record of those teams is over .500), with Zach Randolph recording a game high point total in each game and averaging 24.3 points (on 57.4 percent shooting from the field) and 12 rebounds over that stretch. Six of the Grizzlies’ seven losses are against teams currently in the playoff picture, making their 7-7 record a bit deceiving. Mike Conley is off to a career best start in points (18.8), FGA (14.7), FG percent (49), FT percent (87.5), and three pointers made per game (1.4), which means the Grizzlies have a consistent inside/outside game while Boston, well, lacks both.
Jeff Green leads the way in scoring (15.1 ppg) but hasn’t recorded an assist in three straight games (109 minutes), which means Tony Allen should have a simple game plan. Allen is a premier defender in this league, and the fact that he is going to be responsible for a one dimensional player is almost too easy. The Celtics have lost three straight home games by an average of 11.3 points in large part due to their league low 1.03 assist to turnover ratio. In fact, the majority of their main rotation players average more turnovers than assists per game, a trend that has the potential to lead to a blowout loss to a strong defensive minded team.
Fun Fact: The Celtics’ current starting lineup has one player that averages more than 1.4 assists per night. Their bench has two.