Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics Matchup Preview
As NBA bubble action continues, time the race for the 8th seed in the West has become very interesting. The Memphis Grizzlies (33-38) will take on the Boston Celtics (47-23) at 5:00 pm, and Memphis certainly has a lot to be playing for. The Grizzlies only have a half-game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers for the 8th seed and are only one game and 1.5 games ahead of the Spurs and Suns, respectively. Memphis is 1-5 in its games during the NBA restart and has opened the door for another team to either take their place in the 8th seed or force a play-in tournament for the last spot. With this in mind, Memphis would love to be sitting in the 8th or 9th seed by the end of the bubble but will need to improve their play significantly and win at least one of their last two games. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, they are facing a formidable opponent in the Boston Celtics. Boston has clinched the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference and is a deep team that I think could have a deep run in this year’s playoffs. They have a great coach in Brad Stevens and excellent scoring and defensive abilities. They have an All-Star point guard in Kemba Walker and three skilled wing players in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward. With the wing/forward position being one of Memphis’ weak spots, the Grizzlies could have their hands full tonight.
Time: 5:00 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
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Grizzlies Starting 5
The Grizzlies were not blessed by the NBA schedule makers regarding their schedule in the bubble so far. The team has gone 1-5 and has had to face some very tough teams. The Grizzlies are coming off of a 108-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors, who are the 2nd seed in the East and are among the best teams in the NBA. They now have to face Boston, who is the 3rd seed in the East and a perennial playoff team. Their final game of the NBA restart is against the Bucks, who might not play all of their starters thanks to clinching the #1 seed, are still a force to be reckoned with. Several teams have closed in on Memphis’ lead of the 8th seed, and they are going to need to play up to their competition the next couple of games to stay alive in the playoff picture. If the Grizzlies want to come out with a win tonight, they will need wing players to step up. It’s safe to say that Ja Morant will get his, but the same cannot be said for his supporting cast. Anthony Tolliver, Kyle Anderson, and Jonas Valanciunas were all starters against the Raptors on Sunday and combined for eight points. That type of production is not going to cut it against quality teams like the Celtics and Bucks. Memphis need its role players around Ja Morant to step up if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Celtics Starting 5
As for the Celtics in this matchup, there is not as much on the line for them in this matchup. They currently sit at the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, 3.5 games behind the Raptors and four games ahead of the Heat. With only two games left to play in the regular season, the Celtics have already locked in their position as the 3rd seed in the playoffs. However, their play recently indicates that they are showing no signs of slowing down. The Celtics are 4-2 so far in the bubble, with their losses being to the Bucks and Heat. They have won their last three games, including a big win over the Toronto Raptors. Heading into tonight’s game against Memphis, I think that the Celtics are the clear favorite. They have three 20+ PPG scorers in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker. In addition to having high-scoring ability, the Celtics are also the 4th highest rated defensive team in the NBA. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Tatum to an extent are all talented defensive players. This team has a great starting five and depth at many positions. Their roster in combination with their coaching makes them a dangerous team in the East and is why they should have no problem taking care of the Grizzlies tonight.
Grizzlies vs Celtics Fantasy Basketball Angle
For the daily fantasy angle for this matchup, I decided to go with Jayson Tatum. In the games that Memphis has played without Jaren Jackson Jr. starting at the four, they have played primarily Kyle Anderson and Anthony Tolliver there. Both of those players having to guard Tatum would be a mismatch, which is why I think he will have a big game. Tatum had shown flashes of star potential in his first two seasons but took his most significant leap yet in 2019-20. He averaged 23.4 points per game for Boston and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career. Tatum is the real deal, and he has a favorable matchup ahead of him against the Grizzlies. If you have him on your fantasy team, definitely consider starting Tatum tonight.
Grizzlies vs Celtics Betting Odds
Grizzlies Odds: +150
Celtics Odds: -178
The oddsmakers favor the Boston Celtics in tonight’s matchup, and I cannot argue against them. As much as I would like to see Memphis get back on track, I do not see it happening. Boston outmatches them all across the board and is simply the better team. However, we could see Memphis come out and play very well, as their backs are currently against the wall in the playoff race. I would love to see Memphis come out and give Boston a run for their money, but they haven’t been able to do so against any team during the NBA restart. If I were betting on this game, I would certainly go with the Celtics.
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