Kevin Durant
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) drives past Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)


Kyle Barrette

Well, the Knicks had a good chance last night. All they had to do was keep their heads down and grind out the last four minutes and they couldn’t get it done. We mentioned it was going to take a special night from Trae Young, and that’s exactly what we got. Young put up 45 points and scored his highest number yet in the Garden. Today, attention is shifting to a potential finals matchup between the Grizzlies and the Nets. Both sides are dealing with some injuries, so it’s not the Morant against Irving or Durant show we might see later, but this should be one of the better games of the night. So who has the edge here? Let’s break down both sides and find out.

The Nets have welcomed Durant back with open arms, just like anyone else would, and they are ramping up to head into the playoffs. I did see somewhere that the Nets were specifically targeting a lower seed so that if it comes down to it, Irving can play in four of the games instead of three. While I don’t think it was intentional, this might actually work out this way. The Nets have won six of their last seven and while everything was happening with COVID and injuries, their bench and younger players got a ton of playing time, something that will help them in the playoffs in those higher-pressure situations. The offense has been kicked into a higher gear; overall, they have not scored under 110 in those six wins. If you look at the road wins (the games Irving is allowed to play in), you can see most of them are way higher, closer to the 130 point mark. This is the offense the Grizzlies are going to get tonight. The Grizzlies do a good job protecting the paint. The only issue is that this Nets team is full of guys that can hit all those jump shots. The Nets will get theirs, but the question is whether they will be able to put up a strong enough defensive effort.

Morant will miss tonight’s game, and with the offensive weapons on the other side of the floor, that becomes a big deal. The Grizzlies have done well without Morant this season, but a lot of that has been against sub .500 teams. This might be their biggest test so far. Memphis has won five of its last seven, but all seven games were against sub .500 teams. Memphis holds the fifth best spot in the league for defense and will need every bit of it with Morant out; meaning someone else is going to have to guard Irving. The Grizzlies have made a living by making their opponents turn the ball over, as they average 15 per game. Jaren Jackson Jr. will need to try and remain in the game for as long as possible. The big man has the most fouls in the league this season and, from what we saw in the Rockets game, teams know this and will exploit him and try to get him off the court early.

Grizzlies vs Nets Pick: Nets -2.5
These teams played back in January, and it was a 118-104 Grizzlies win. In that game, Morant dropped 36 and Irving was in the stands. Insert Irving and leave out Morant, and we have a different outcome. Take the Nets at -2.5.

Same Game Parlay:
Nets -2, Kevin Durant First Basket, Durant Over 28.5 Pts, Nets to win by 1-10 Pts and Nets Team Total Over 119.5 Pts. 

SGP Odds +4185

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