Friday night will showcase two young teams battling it out in New Orleans when the Memphis Grizzlies head to Smoothie King Center to face the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pelicans are heading into Friday night on a two-game winning streak, with handsome wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.
The Grizzlies have their own winning streak going at four straight games, with their most recent win being against the New York Knicks.
The Pelicans come into this matchup as 4.5-point favorites. Can Zion Williamson & Co. cover against this hungry Memphis team?
Memphis Tries To Secure Position
The Grizzlies are a team you can’t help but love. A team that was one of the worst teams in the Western Conference is currently the eighth seed, with tons of room to grow. Memphis’ success is due mostly to Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant, who averages 7.2 assists per game and put up a double-double against the Knicks on Wednesday night.
Besides being one of the most improved teams of the year, the Grizzlies have the fourth-best field-goal percentage and the ninth-best scoring offense in the league. Be sure to remember who the Grizzlies have beaten, as big wins over the Nuggets and Rockets aren’t easy to come by.
They’ll need another win Friday night to further strengthen their eighth-seed spot. Although people expected the Grizzlies to perform better this year, they are definitely overachieving expectations.
A point of slight concern is this will be Memphis’ second straight road game heading from New York down to New Orleans with only a day in between games.
Recently against the spread, Memphis has been great, with a 4-1 record in its last five games. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies’ record against the Pelicans is much worse, going 2-4 ATS and 1-4 SU when playing on the road against New Orleans.
Healthy Pelicans Look To Continue Streak
It goes without saying that Zion Williamson returning to the lineup has brought excitement back to the Pelicans. With Jrue Holiday recently returning as well, New Orleans is giving fans something to look forward to next season.
This is another team that, in the offseason, experts had very low expectations for. Though the Pelicans probably won’t make the postseason, it isn’t due to poor performance.
For a significant amount of time, the Pelicans were missing the top prospect coming out of college. With an early injury to Williamson and a later injury to Holiday, the Pelicans were off to a rough start as far as health went.
However, just because they likely won’t make the playoffs doesn’t mean the Pelicans will take their foot off the gas.
The last time these two teams played, New Orleans traveled to Memphis and won 126-116, and that was before Williamson returned. The great news is that there isn’t a single player listed on the Pelicans’ injury report for their game against the Grizzlies.
In their last nine games, the Pelicans are 7-2 against the spread when playing at home. In their last 18, the Pelicans have been one of the best with a record of 14-3-1.
Pick and Prediction
Although I think the Grizzlies are continuing to improve with every game they play together, I feel like they still lack some of the key components to beat a team like the Pelicans. Morant will likely have a great game, but on defense, it won’t be easy to cover all the standout players on the Pelicans’ roster.
The Pelicans do great against the spread and have beat the Grizzlies without Williamson before. This time they’ll be adding Williamson back into the lineup in a game that is sure to be entertaining. If Williamson hadn’t been injured at the beginning of the year, this game would’ve been circled as two Rookie of the Year candidates facing off.
Considering the Grizzlies will be traveling down from New York and likely not well-rested, I’ll take the home team. New Orleans Pelicans -4.5.