Clippers vs. Grizzlies: L.A. Should Stay Hot In Memphis

Jacob McKenna previews Thursday's NBA game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies, including odds and a betting pick.

Clippers vs. Grizzlies Odds

Clippers Odds -1.5
Grizzlies Odds +1.5
Over/Under 222
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Los Angeles Clippers begin a short two-game road trip Thursday when they travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

The Clippers come into the matchup as one of the hottest teams in the NBA, winning eight of their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies appear to have hit a bump in the road, winning just two of their last six games.

We’ll see two of the league’s brightest stars in Ja Morant and Paul George go at one another in this game. When the two teams met at the beginning of the season, Morant and the Grizzlies came out on top.

Will we see Memphis grab another win, or will the Clippers redeem themselves against a struggling Grizzlies team?

Los Angeles Clippers: George, Defense Have Fueled Surge

The Clippers are winning without some key rotation players.

Marcus Morris has not played since their last matchup against the Grizzlies, and is out again Thursday due to a knee injury. Nic Batum will be joining him on the bench as he is nursing an injured Achilles.

Batum being out makes things a little more tricky, but that may open up the door for Terance Mann to make his return to the court. He is a game-time decision with an ankle injury.

Luckily for L.A, George is fully healthy and putting up MVP numbers, a big reason why the Clips have found so much success recently. George is averaging 27 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists over his last five games, and scored 41 points in his last meeting with Memphis.

He has a lot of weight on his shoulders with Kawhi Leonard out, but has stepped up when needed and will likely do it again against a poor Memphis defense.

The Clippers rank 20th in Offensive Rating, scoring 106.1 points per 100 possessions. However, they’re shooting 35.5% from behind the arc, are ranked sixth overall in Pace, and average 112.3 points per game in their last six games. There will likely be plenty of chances to put the ball in the basket.

The heart and soul of this Clippers team is their defense, which is hands down one of the best in the league. They rank second overall in Defensive Rating, allowing just 100.8 points per 100 possessions, and have held opponents to an average of 103 points in their last six games. Furthermore, opponents are shooting just 42.6% from the floor and 32.9% from three against the Clippers this season.

Memphis Grizzlies: Mediocre Play Of Late

The Grizzlies rank 14th overall in Offensive Rating, scoring 108.1 points per 100 possessions, and are shooting just 44.2 % from the floor and 33.6% from behind the arc, all of which has caused the Grizzlies to average just 108.5 points in their last six games. This is a team that is near the top 10 in Pace, but that hasn’t exactly translated to points in the grand scheme of things.

Part of the reason for their average offensive start was the absence of Dillon Brooks. Since making his return on November 10th, Brooks is averaging 19.7 points and shooting 46.7% from three, providing a nice change of pace for his squad. He’ll certainly be a factor to consider in this one.

The most glaring issue for Memphis is its defense, a unit that ranks 29th in Defensive Rating. The Grizzlies are allowing their opponents to shoot 47.1% from the floor and 39.4% from three, while simultaneously surrendering 47.7 points per game in the painted area. They rank in the bottom six of the league in all three of those areas.

Furthermore, the Grizzlies have given up an average of 114 points per game in their last six matchups and have lost by an average of 18.5 points per game in their most recent four losses. When they lose, they lose by a lot, which is a trend that is worrisome when coming into a matchup against a team as hot as the Clippers.

Clippers-Grizzlies Pick

We have two teams that have begun to trend in two opposite directions, and I think the Clippers are in a great spot to redeem themselves after losing to the Grizzlies earlier in the year.

Even when facing some injuries, L.A. has been able to find their rhythm and win games. They are set up well to continue to do that on Thursday night.

In addition, the Clippers are 2-0 against the spread as a road favorite, 5-3 ATS after a win, and 3-1 ATS on the road this season, three more trends that suggest backing the Clips in this spot.

My model has L.A. winning by four points, a number that is certainly capable of being reached since they are playing one of the worst defenses in the league.

Pick: Clippers -1.5 (-110)