Grizzlies vs. Knicks Preview: Can New York's Defense Keep It Close?

Action Network contributor Kenny Ducey previews Wednesday night's matchup between the Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks.

Grizzlies vs. Knicks Odds

Grizzlies Odds -3.5
Knicks Odds +3.5
Over/Under 217
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies will meet at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night in a game that most have pegged as a great bounce-back spot for the Grizzlies.

It’s possible, though, that things in Memphis are not as great as its recent record would indicate. Allow me to dive into the numbers here and explain.

>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

Grizzlies Slowing Cooling Off

The Grizzlies have yet to really come back down to Earth following their scorching charge towards the top of the Western Conference, but the writing may be on the wall.

Over the past two weeks, Memphis hasn’t looked bad per se, though it has looked average. The Grizzlies have gone a relatively pedestrian 4-2 with a win over the shorthanded Utah Jazz mixed in there and one over the Washington Wizards which saw Bradley Beal do something he doesn’t do often — go 2-for-11 from the field. They failed to show up against Dallas and most recently the Grizzlies managed to fall to the Sixers in a game Philly played without Joel Embiid.

Memphis — perhaps the league’s best rebounding team and a sound defensive unit in the front — was dominated by Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris. The Sixers managed to out-rebound the Grizzlies and put up 68 points in the paint in the overtime win.

All of this is to say that the Grizzlies have not been the strong defensive team they were during their winning streak. In the past two weeks, they rank 14th with 110.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. The Grizz have remained afloat and even covered as the favorite three times in the past four games, but these games have been anything but their best.

More trouble could be on the horizon against New York, too, with Steven Adams listed as questionable due to an ankle injury. This team is still dealing with an injury to Dillon Brooks and only recently got Tyus Jones back. The Adams injury would probably be bigger than both of those, but it’s been a tumultuous few weeks.

Can Knicks Up the Tempo on Offense?

Speaking of tumultuous, it’s been a rough eight-game stretch for the Knicks, who have lost six times since their big 117-108 win in Atlanta on Jan. 15. They’ve only been able to produce wins against the Clippers and Kings, going nearly a month now without a statement win.

It might be time to give New York a little bit of a break. Over that eight game span, the team ranks eighth in defensive efficiency with 109.3 points allowed per 100, but has lagged behind offensively with the second-worst unit in the league during that time.

It’s hard to blame them, though. The Knicks weren’t ready for a revamped Hornets defense that began playing well just a couple of games prior to their meeting on Jan. 17, then they had to play a near-top 10 defense in Minnesota, a Pelicans defense that ranks in the top 10 in defensive rating over the last two weeks, and the Cavaliers, Heat and Bucks.

With that schedule, it’s easy to see why this team has struggled to score the ball. The Knicks have averaged 113 points in their two wins in the last two weeks, proving they’re capable of scoring when facing even an average defense. While Memphis grades out as one of the league’s better defensive units, we’ve covered the fact that they may be the slightest bit vulnerable. Perhaps that’s what the Knicks need.

Grizzlies-Knicks Pick

Betting on the Knicks is a scary proposition, particularly when their second-best player couldn’t even put up 15 points last time out against the Kings. When it comes down to it, though, their form is slightly better than their recent record would lead you to believe — and the opposite is likely true of the Grizzlies.

That’s the reason why this line is so short, and the injury concerns surrounding Adams certainly play a part as well. New York should be able to find a way through Memphis if the big man is indeed out considering how bad the Grizzlies have been on defense lately. New York has remained strong on that end, and eventually the teams that play defense start winning games.

Pick: Knicks +3.5 (-110)