Wizards vs. Grizzlies Preview: How To Keep Backing Morant & Co.

Jacob McKenna breaks down the betting value in the NBA matchup on Saturday between the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies.

Wizards vs. Grizzlies Odds

Wizards Odds +5
Grizzlies Odds -5
Over/Under 229.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Washington Wizards will play their first road game in more than two weeks on Saturday night when they travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

Washington came out of the gates hot to start the 2021-22 season, winning 10 of its first 13 games. However, the Wizards have won just 13 of their next 35 games and find themselves in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

On the other hand, Memphis has been one of the best surprises of the season, currently sitting in third in the West with a record of 34-17.Ja Morant has taken his game to new heights this season, and the rest of this Grizzlies team has followed in his footsteps.

Will Memphis be able to continue its home-court dominance, or can Washington snap its four-game losing streak by beating one of the NBA’s top teams?

Wizards Defense Trending Downward

The Wizards have lost four straight games to the Nets, Raptors, Celtics and Clippers, a stretch that perfectly sums up their play for a majority of the season.

Washington’s defensive struggles have been evident during this losing streak,  during which it has given up an average of 115 points per game. The Wizards have also seen their Defensive Rating trend in the wrong direction according to NBA Advanced Stats, as it’s at 116.5 over these last four games compared to their season rating of 111.

Washington is allowing opponents to shoot 46% overall and 40% from behind the arc in its last four. Tightening up on that end of the floor needs to be a priority, especially against a Grizzlies team that ranks within the top 10 in Pace.

To add insult to injury, the Washington offense has been all over the place. The Wizards have scored upwards of 115 points in two of their last four while shooting 47% from the field, but they have also had games recently where they have scored fewer than 100 en route to being run out of the gym.

It is tough to predict which Washington team we’ll see on a nightly basis, but it is possible that these three days of rest have given it time to firmly hit the reset button.

Morant-Powered Grizz Thriving On Both Ends

This is a back-to-back situation for Memphis, with the front-end being a great 10-point win over the Jazz on Friday night against Utah. Memphis shot 56% from the floor and 39% from 3-point land against the Jazz, as Ja Morant led the way with a 30-10-10 triple double.

Those lines are beginning to become quite normal for the first time All-Star, and as a result Memphis has officially become a championship contender.

Entering this matchup, the Grizzlies have an Offensive Rating of 111.6, which ranks eighth in the NBA this season. They haven’t been the most efficient team, shooting 45.6% from the floor and 33.8% from 3-point range, but their fast pace has given themselves plenty of possessions to put up points.

Things have also gone extremely well for Memphis on the defensive end of the floor this season, posting a Defensive Rating of 108.4 and allowing just 44.9 points per game in the paint. Jaren Jackson Jr. has been a tremendous force on that end of the floor of late, averaging 4.1 blocks per game in his last 11 games. That has allowed the Grizzlies to separate themselves often and win seven of their last 10 games.

Wizards-Grizzlies Pick

The Wizards looked like a promising squad after acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell in the offseason, but this team has struggled to string together wins while consistently sliding down the standings.

Washington hasn’t played since Jan. 25 while Memphis played on the road last night, but the Grizzlies have proven that the back end of a back-to-back has not done much in regard to how they perform. Memphis is 6-3 against the spread in these situations this season, and it has covered the spread in 59% of games on its home court.

Overall, the Grizzlies have the upper hand in several facets of the game when compared to Washington, and I think they come out and put together another solid performance.

Pick: Grizzlies -5