The surging Cleveland Cavaliers (29-16) battle the injured Memphis Grizzlies (18-29) this Thursday (2/1/24). Get Cavaliers vs. Grizzlies moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Prediction
Since Desmond Bane’s injury eight games ago, Jaren Jackson Jr. has averaged a monstrous 21 field goal attempts per game and produced terrible 41/21/82 shooting splits. It’s not his fault, as he’s simply not built to be the top offensive option. To make matters worse, the horrendous spacing allows opponents to pack the paint and build a wall, thus forcing him into contested jump shots. Memphis has no choice but to feed Jackson Jr. these looks though since hardly anyone else can create their own shot or pass others open.
Unfortunately for them, Cleveland boasts an elite interior defense that allows the fifth lowest field goal percentage within eight feet of the basket (per NBA.com). Jarrett Allen’s fearlessness, timing, and 7’6” wingspan grant him a large block radius, while Dean Wade brings the size to contest bigger forwards.
With Jackson Jr. essentially nullified, who can be the volume scorer that Memphis desperately needs? Santi Aldama is their top active scorer behind Jackson Jr. at roughly ten points per game, but he also faces this defensive frontcourt. Vince Williams Jr. represents the Grizzlies’ best hope, but Cleveland can throw Isaac Okoro and Max Strus at him. Plus, Williams Jr. does most of his damage in the paint, and that’s not a recipe for success against the Cavaliers.
Overall, look for the Grizzlies to sputter on offense and barely crack 100 points against a dominant Cleveland squad that ranks third in Defensive Rating.
However, Memphis has leaned into their defense and subsequently ranks tenth in Defensive Rating. Jackson Jr. remains a hyper-disruptive deterrent, and Williams Jr. applies back-breaking pressure on primary scorers. Additionally, Xavier Tillman and Santi Aldama are quietly effective paint defenders. Can they do enough to keep this game within seven points? It’s doubtful. They lack the guard defenders to contain both Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, and Memphis’ bench has no answer for professional scorer Caris LeVert. Finally, it’s likely that Cleveland wins the possession battle via turnovers and offensive rebounds.
This Memphis squad fights tooth and nail, but they simply don’t have the talent or offensive juice to compete at the moment. Taking the Cavs to win by at least eight points is the best bet here.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Prediction: Cavaliers -7.5
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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Best Odds
The Cavaliers enter this contest favored by nearly eight points, which isn’t surprising given Memphis’ numerous key injuries. Cleveland owns a quality 11-8-1 record against the spread on the road, while Memphis is an abysmal 7-14 against the spread at home.
For the Grizzlies’ +270 moneyline to be profitable in the long run, they need to win this game at least 27 percent of the time.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
Memphis Grizzlies Starting Lineup
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Injuries
Evan Mobley, Ty Jerome, and Tristan Thompson are out for Cleveland. On the other hand, Memphis lacks Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart, Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, and Jake LaRavia. Luke Kennard and Derrick Rose hold doubtful tags too, while John Konchar is questionable. In other words, the Grizzlies will be down four starters and six of their top eight players.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Key Matchups
Turnovers & Offensive Rebounds
Because Memphis’ playmakers are hurt, the offense is being run through non-traditional ball handlers at an alarming rate. As a result, the Grizzlies rank 24th in turnover rate and 27th in assist to turnover ratio. That doesn’t bode well against a Cleveland defense that forces the seventh most turnovers per game. Meanwhile, Adams and Clarke’s absence has led opponents to often win the boards battle too.
If the Cavaliers snag a decent possession advantage due to turnovers and offensive rebounds, then the Grizzlies are likely doomed because it’s not probable that they keep pace from a points per possession perspective.