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NBA Weekend Betting: Grizzlies vs. Hawks Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 2/7/2014 8:27:27 AM

The Memphis Grizzlies are on a tear, but the Atlanta Hawks are not chopped liver. What will happen in this Southern-flavored NBA showdown on Saturday evening in Georgia?

Memphis Grizzlies @ Atlanta Hawks

The Memphis Grizzlies’ expectations seemed to be shattered when Marc Gasol was injured. Memphis dropped to a 10-15 record just before Christmas and was in danger of falling out of the playoff chase. The Grizzlies did lack the offense they needed to compensate for the absence of Gasol, a player who makes Memphis such an imposing force on defenses. The team was just muddling through, and it was running out of time in which to improve its odds of getting into the playoffs. Even now, the team is fighting with the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. However, Gasol did return, and since his return in early January, this team has lost only once. To be more specific, Memphis has lost only once since Jan. 7. The Grizzlies are defending at their very best – they’re in such a groove at that end of the court. It’s easy to think of teams being in a comfort zone or a rhythm on offense, but that’s just as true (and as possible to happen) on defense. That’s where the Grizzlies are at this point in time. They will need to brush up on offense and improve their ability to get scoring from the perimeter, the persistent problem (and need) for the team over the past few years. If they can hit a reasonable percentage of outside shots in this game, they should be in a very good position against Atlanta.

The Hawks are an up-and-down team that’s just above the .500 mark. That’s nothing special in the Eastern Conference, but it’s good enough for third place and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Atlanta hasn’t been consistent this season – that’s an indictment of this team – but on the other hand, the Hawks have had their moments, such as a win over the Miami Heat a few weeks ago. They also beat the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 8, showing that they can stand in the arena and take a lot of punches against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. What is also worth pointing out is that Atlanta’s offense was the reason the Hawks beat the Heat, while the team’s defense is what stopped the Pacers. The Hawks scored 121 points against Miami but allowed only 87 to Indiana. Whenever a team can win while playing different styles against good teams, it shows that it has a measure of versatility. This bodes well for other big games against other tough teams. Memphis might be at the bottom of the playoff ladder in the West, but it is playing like a third or fourth seed right now. Yet, Atlanta could very well be able to clamp down on the Grizzlies in this contest.

Prediction

The Hawks won’t roll over, but Memphis is in such a good place in terms of getting consistent efforts (and results) from its defense each night. Go with the Grizzlies here.

Pick: Memphis

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