The NBA play-in tournament continues Wednesday when the Memphis Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs in the West Nine-Ten Game. The stagnant Spurs backdoored their way into the postseason, where they meet a division foe from the Southwest.
The winner of the Nine-Ten Game faces the loser of the Seven-Eight Game between the LA Lakers and Golden State Warriors. The winner of the second round of the play-in tournament secures the #8 seed in the Western Conference, where the top-seeded Utah Jazz await.
|NBA Play-in Tournament: West Nine-Ten Game
|San Antonio Spurs (34-38) at Memphis Grizzlies (33-39)
- Tip-off: 4:30 pm PT
- Location: Fed Ex Arena, Memphis, TN
- Point Spread: MEM -4
- Total: 222 o/u
- Moneyline: SA +155 / BOS -165
The Grizzlies advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2017. Ja Morant, the 2020 Rookie of the Year winner, can’t wait for his first real taste of the postseason. The Grizzlies missed the playoffs last season when they lost in the inaugural play-in game during the 2020 NBA Playoffs. The Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers met in a single game inside the NBA Bubble to determine the #8 seed in the West. The Grizzlies lost a close game by four points where Morant scored 35 points in a losing cause.
Betting on Spurs/Grizzlies
In three meetings this season, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs twice. The underdog won all three games.
The Grizzlies were the third-best betting team in the NBA this season with a 42-20 ATS record. The Spurs also had a winning record, beating the spread with a 38-32-2 clip. The Grizzlies liked to beat up on bad teams and posted a 23-11 record against sub-.500 teams.
In terms of betting NBA totals, both teams finished the season 36-36 when betting the over. However, these are two strong defensive squads, so keep an eye on the under. The Spurs averaged only 111.1 ppg this season (ranked #20), but they had a top-10 defense, allowing only 110.7 ppg (ranked #9). The Grizzlies averaged 113.3 ppg (ranked #15), while their defense was ranked #10 overall allowing 110.9 ppg.
The Spurs were the last team listed on the NBA futures board. According to DraftKings, the Spurs are +50000 odds to win the 2021 NBA championship. The Memphis Grizzlies are also long shots at +25000 odds to win the title.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant waiting for takeoff
The Grizzlies nurture a well-balanced scoring attack. Seven players average double digits, while nine players average 9.1 ppg or better.
Morant leads the Grizzlies with 19.1 points and 7.4 assists per game. He faded the dreaded sophomore slump and emerged as one of the league’s most exciting playmakers. Even though the Grizzlies face a dull opponent with the Spurs, this play-in game is still must-see TV. When Morant isn’t knocking down shots, he’s usually dishing to Dillon Brooks (17.2 ppg) and Jonas Valanciunas (17.1 ppg).
As the Grizzlies’ big man, Valanciunas averages a double-double with 12.5 rebounds per game, third-best in the league. His 49 double-doubles are third in the NBA this season behind Nikola Jokic and Russell Westbrook. Valanciunas boasts an impressive PER rating of 24.47, which is ranked #12 overall.
The Grizzlies are thrilled to have Jaren Jackson, Jr. back in the lineup. He made his season debut in late April after missing much of the season while recovering from knee surgery. JJJ averaged 14.4 in 11 games since rejoining the Griz.
San Antonio Spurs: Skidding into the play-in
The Spurs were 33-33, but lost four games in a row during the final week of the season to fall six games under .500. If Zion Williamson didn’t fracture his hand, the Pelicans would have overtaken the Spurs and secured a spot in the play-in tournament while the Spurs bubbled.
Over the last dozen games, the Spurs went 2-10. The downswing coincided with losing Derrick White to a sprained ankle. Coach Gregg Popovich expects White to play in the Nine-Ten Game.
The Spurs have DeMar DeRozan as their lone star, compared to other West squads that have a dynamic duo or a Big 3. DeRozan led the Spurs with 21.8 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. Dejounte Murray (15.7 ppg) and Derrick White (15.4 ppg) provided additional scoring. Small forward Keldon Johnson has been improving throughout the season. He averages 12.8 points and 6.0 assists per game.
Like most of Pops’ teams in San Antonio, they share the ball and focus on teamwork. Their offensive strategy shifts from game to game, depending on matchups and situations. That philosophy worked to near perfection in the past, but the current version of the Spurs lacked depth.
Veteran LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs agreed to a contract buyout. Aldridge signed with the Brooklyn Nets, but he didn’t last long before they discovered a heart condition. Aldridge retired on the spot.
Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.