MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (24-20)
at MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (23-22)
Tip-off: Friday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Even, Total: 190.5
A pair of surging Western Conference teams, the Grizzlies and Timberwolves, look to stay hot when they collide at Target Center on Friday night.
Memphis is currently in ninth place in the Western Conference and has been on an absolute tear recently. The Grizzlies have been victorious in nine of their past 10 games SU (7-3 ATS), and have prevailed in each of their past five road games (4-1 ATS). Over the 10-game stretch, they have also defeated some of the Westís toughest competition, with wins over Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Portland and twice against Houston. The Memphis defense has not allowed more than 95 points in eight straight games, as the Total has gone Under in each of those contests. Minnesota has also been on a solid stretch recently, going 5-1 (SU and ATS) over its past six games. The Wolves competition hasn't been incredible during this surge, but they did beat two potential playoff teams, Golden State and Chicago. Playing on the road has actually not been too much of a problem for the Grizzlies, as their 12-7 SU record (11-7 ATS) would attest, while the Timberwolves are a decent 13-8 SU (11-10 ATS) at home. Minnesota's win at FedEx Forum on Dec. 15 snapped Memphis' 11-game win streak (9-2 ATS) in this series. This season, the Wolves finally pulled out a victory, winning 101-93 in Memphis and covering the 3.5-point spread as the favorite. The Grizzlies are 79-58 ATS (58%) in all games over the past two seasons, while head coach Rick Adelman has led the Timberwolves to an 84-53 ATS record (61%) when playing against a marginal winning team (51% to 60% win pct.) in the second half of the season in all games that he has coached since 1996. On the injury front, SG Tony Allen (wrist) is out indefinitely for Memphis, and C Nikola Pekovic (ankle) remains sidelined for Minnesota.
Which team will extend its win streak on Friday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 61% ATS (27-17) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 54% ATS (37-31) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Zach has a strong 57% ATS mark (24-18-1) on Best Bets since Dec. 1 and is currently 52% ATS (35-32-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Scott is 55% ATS (18-15) in Best Bets since Dec. 16.
The Grizzlies have not been much of a threat offensively over the course of the season as evident by their 95.9 PPG (6th worst in NBA) and have averaged just 95.0 PPG in their past 10 games, in which they have gone 9-1 SU. Their calling card is their tough defense, which has allowed a mere 95.5 PPG (3rd in NBA) overall, while giving up only 88.7 PPG in the past 10 games. PG Mike Conley (18.2 PPG, 6.3 APG, 1.5 SPG) is the teamís leading scorer and is coming off a 27-point, 10-assist performance against the Kings. He has averaged 13.6 PPG (43% FG), 5.9 APG and 1.8 SPG over 22 career games (20 starts) against the Wolves, but was not able to do enough (28 points, 5 rebounds) to help his team to a win against them this season. PF Zach Randolph (17.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG) has three double-doubles in his past five games and scored 20 points while grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out five assists in a losing effort against Minnesota the first time around. He has plenty of experience against this opponent (35 career games, 27 starts), netting 15.5 PPG (46% FG) with 8.8 RPG versus Minneosta. SG Courtney Lee (9.1 PPG, 43% threes) has provided a boost of offense (14.0 PPG) to the team in the 11 games since being traded from the Celtics, but came up flat in his most recent game, scoring only four points. He also scored only four points when he faced the Timberwolves as a member of Boston earlier this season, but played just 15 minutes in the game. Since arriving in Memphis, Lee is averaging 26.6 MPG.
Minnesota ranks third in the NBA in scoring with 106.1 PPG, but has surprisingly scored only 91.5 PPG over their past two games, both SU victories. They allowed just 81.5 PPG to their opponents in those games, but have given up 101.4 PPG (17th in NBA) over the course of the entire season. PF Kevin Love (25.0 PPG, 12.9 RPG) has scored 30.5 PPG in his past two contests, but is shooting only 18.5% from long range over the past five games. He had 30 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks the first time facing Memphis this season, while averaging 17.5 PPG (50% FG) and 9.9 RPG over 11 career games against them. The Grizzlies are the only team in the NBA that Love has not averaged at least a double-double against over his career. SG Kevin Martin (19.3 PPG, 40% threes) has shot poorly over the past couple of games, scoring only 13.0 PPG on 35% FG. Even though Minnesota defeated Memphis the first time around, Martin did not contribute at all, with zero points in 19 minutes as he spent most of the second half on the bench icing his knees. This was a surprise though, as he has averaged 22.3 PPG (48% FG) against them in 27 career games, his highest average against any opponent over his nine-year career. PG Ricky Rubio (8.5 PPG, 8.2 APG, 2.6 SPG) will need to step up his offensive game with Pekovic out, but the point guard has scored double-digit points only four times in 14 January games so far. Rubio has 11.7 PPG (42% FG), 5.2 APG and 4.3 RPG in his six career games against the Grizzlies, including 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting in the Dec. 15 meeting.