Blazers vs. Grizzlies Betting Preview and Prediction

Ja Morant (middle) and Damian Lillard (right)
Ja Morant (middle) and Damian Lillard (right) will battle in a play-in game on Saturday (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies will square off in a play-in game to get to the NBA Playoffs. The game takes place on Saturday, August 15. Looking at the Trail Blazers vs. Grizzlies odds, the Trail Blazers are big betting favorites.

At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Blazers were 6-point favorites on the point spread on Friday morning. On the moneyline, the Blazers vs. Grizzlies line had Portland at -250 to win the game. On the shoulders of Damian Lillard’s incredible run of late, the Blazers are pegged by many to be the team to advance to the NBA Playoffs.

The game is scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 15, at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT). It will be broadcast on ABC. If the Blazers win, that’s it, they’ll be on to face LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. If the Grizzlies win, a second play-in game will take place on Sunday, August 16. Memphis must win both games to advance to the postseason.

Lillard and Morant Shine

In the eight seeding games, the Blazers went 6-2 and Lillard averaged more than 37 points. In those eight games, Lillard never scored below 20 in a single contest and went for more than 40 on four occasions. He even had back-to-back 51- and 61-point performances. When it comes to Lillard player props, specifically points, the numbers only keep getting higher. In the team’s last game, which was a must-win game against the Brooklyn Nets, Lillard had a player prop over/under on 36.5 points. He scored 42.

Portland’s opponent, Memphis, is led by rookie sensation Ja Morant. Morant has had a spectacular season, but the team could only muster a 2-6 record in the eight play-in games. Over those eight play-in games, Morant averaged 19 points, 9.8 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game, which are all higher than his season average. Looking at the player props for Morant, over/under betting totals are usually around 17.5 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds.

Experienced Scoring Gives Blazers Edge

The Blazers have been the talk of the NBA’s return to play. While much of the conversation has been focused on Lillard, the team as a whole has been performing quite well. In addition to Lillard, Carmelo Anthony came to the NBA bubble having lost a lot of weight and looking great, Jusuf Nurkic is back from injury, and CJ McCollum is still an excellent Robin to Lillard’s Batman.

In the bubble, Anthony has averaged 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds. He’s not as much of a scoring factor as he once was in the league, but Anthony is a good third option behind Lillard and McCollum, especially when the team needs a big shot knocked down. Anthony can hit from all over the floor and, although he did lose a bit of weight, still has enough size to take the ball to the basket.

Nurkic is averaging 17.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game inside the bubble, and McCollum is averaging more than 20 points per game in the bubble. Hassan Whiteside is a really big body down low for the Blazers, but he missed two of the team’s eight games in the bubble. Even when he’s played, he hasn’t had the same output as he did before the bubble, but the return of Nurkic plays into that, so it’s not a huge loss for the Blazers.

We also like what we’ve seen from Gary Trent Jr., who has averaged 16.8 points for the Blazers in the eight seeding games. His emergence gives Portland another option.

Jaren Jackson Jr. was looking really good for Memphis, scoring 33, 21, and 22 points in the team’s first three games back. He suffered a knee injury, though, and is out for the season. Dillon Brooks has performed well and picked up some of the load left by Jackson, averaging more than 20 points per game over the last eight. Another rookie, Brandon Clarke, has also had to step up, and then big man Jonas Valanciunas has been a double-double machine, averaging 15.2 points and 11.5 rebounds during the last eight games.

We like the team the Blazers have better than the Grizzlies. Morant is awesome and Memphis has a good future ahead with its young core, but the experienced scoring that Portland has along with big men Nurkic and Whiteside are the better side.

Blazers vs. Grizzlies Prediction

The popular side in this game will be the Blazers. They’re getting all the love and showing out on the big stage with their backs against the wall. But, Memphis has a ton to play for in this game, too. The Grizzlies aren’t just going to be a pushover. Although Memphis is young and gives up the experience to the Blazers, the youth they have, led by Morant, is talented.

Valanciunas is an interesting player in this one. He’s obviously a huge presence around the rim on either side of the court, but he has the ability to stretch the floor pretty well. Valanciunas is also one of the more experienced players on Memphis’ roster. He’ll match up with Nurkic and Whiteside in this one, and his ability to spread out should give Portland a little more to think about on defense.

At the end of the day, it’s going to be hard to bet against Lillard and the Blazers, but that’s what we’re doing. Well, kind of. We’ll take the points with Memphis, so give us the Grizzlies (+6) on the point spread. If you can still find a point spread of Grizzlies (+7), even better. This one feels like it will close even shorter.

Betting on the moneyline is something we’d avoid for this one. Much like their last game against the Brooklyn Nets when the Blazers were 9-point favorites over the Nets, who had already clinched a playoff spot and had nothing to play for, this one seems as though it’ll be closer than people may think. Betting Portland on the moneyline will be tough at the price of -250, so that’s a bet we’ll avoid. If we absolutely had to take a side, we’d grab the underdog Grizzlies at +205 (DraftKings Sportsbook). Portland only has to win one of the two play-in games, whereas Memphis has to win both, and that’s part of the reason why we think the first game will be played closer.

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