New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after making a 3-point basket in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The Spurs won 121-117. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after making a 3-point basket in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The Spurs won 121-117. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)|Associated Press
NBA

NBA Friday: Grizzlies keep clawing their way into playoff picture vs Pistons, Kawhi leads Clippers vs Heat, Nuggets rebound vs Pelicans

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

0-1 Thursday, 72-76-1 overall.

Grizzlies (+1) @ Pistons (230.5)

Pick: Grizzlies +1

It’s a matchup of a playoff bubble team out West with a playoff bubble team in the East tonight in the Motor City. Though, the roster constructions of both the Grizzlies and Pistons are rather different. Memphis is an upstart, young team with a lot of promise beyond this season. Detroit is a weird mix of veterans and young players, though its best players are veterans and ones that aren’t good enough to really make Detroit anything more than a fringe playoff team. When it comes to getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, this rendition of the Pistons has been there done that, while the Grizzlies would probably love to get a taste of postseason basketball with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson. With Blake Griffin out for the year, we wouldn’t bank on Detroit making a run in the second half. Memphis might not make the playoffs either, but we certainly expect the Grizzlies to be more engaged tonight and the Pistons to be going through the motions.

Clippers (-2.5) @ Heat (221)

Pick: Clippers -2.5

This week should be a telling week for handicapping Clippers regular season games. Kawhi Leonard suited up in a Tuesday victory in Dallas and went off to the tune of 36 points and 11 rebounds. He sat on the second leg of the back-to-back in Atlanta on Wednesday and the Hawks pulled out the outright win as short underdogs 102-95. We’d expect Leonard back in the lineup tonight against the Heat and wouldn’t be surprised if he sat on Sunday in Orlando with a showdown with the Lakers following the game against the Magic. See the trend? The Clippers will play their superstar when they need him against marquee opponents, and will sit him against bad and mediocre opponents and if they lose like they did to Atlanta, they probably don’t care. Games like Friday night in Miami are ones we want to back the Clippers in. The Heat have been arguably the biggest overachiever in the first half of the NBA season, but their shooting numbers from the outside are bound to regress. That starts tonight as the Clippers win by 7-10 points.

Nuggets (+4) @ Pelicans (230)

Pick: Under 230

The Pelicans will continue to implement Zion Williamson into the rotation tonight as the 2019 No. 1 overall pick will play his second game in the Big Easy. This is a tricky side with Denver still being banged up but the Pelicans aren’t exactly cheap as a four-point favorite. The total is what we’re interested in for this game and we’ll play it under 230. New Orleans certainly can score at will sometimes, but Denver is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and just got blown out in Houston on Wednesday. Good teams like the Nuggets tend to respond well off of bad games. Whether that’s with a victory tonight, we’re not sure, but we’re certainly expecting a better defensive game from the Nuggets and with several key scorers still sidelined, Denver’s not going to have a field day offensively. First to 110 wins tonight which gives us enough wiggle room on under 230 to make it an official play.

Bettors Insider
www.bettorsinsider.com