Milwaukee Bucks vs Memphis Grizzlies Preview
In the last outing for Milwaukee, they defeated Washington by 13 points despite Giannis Antetokounmpo playing just 10 minutes. Giannis was ejected with eight minutes and fifty seconds remaining in the second quarter after he headbutted Wizards’ forward Moritz Wagner. Giannis was subsequently suspended by the NBA for one game, meaning he will miss this contest against Memphis. In Giannis’s absence against Washington, Sterling Brown stepped up in a massive way with 23 points on 9-16 shooting from the field along with a career-high five 3-pointers made. Brook Lopez also put forth a huge effort against the Wizards with a team-leading 24 points on just 11 shot attempts, including a perfect five for five mark from three-point range. The Bucks clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference almost a week ago so it would not be shocking at all to see them limit their major players in terms of minutes played.
For Memphis, this game means everything as losses to the Celtics and Raptors in their past two outings have put them at risk of falling out of the number eight seed as well as the playoffs altogether. If the Grizzlies lose this game and the Blazers and Suns both win, the Grizzlies will fall out of the play-in tournament for the number eight seed. Against Boston, Memphis struggled as it only hit 24.1% of its 3-point attempts. Ja Morant produced 26 points and 13 assists but the team struggled to find another consistent scorer as Brandon Clarke was the second-leading scorer behind Morant with 15 points off the bench. The Grizzlies currently sit at the #9 seed in the Western Conference after the Trail Blazers moved into the #8 spot with a huge win over the Mavericks. The Grizzlies need to win this game to stay ahead of the Suns for the #9 seed, a team that has an identical record to Memphis but a losing record against them this season.
Time: 4:00 PM ET
Arena: ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena, Orlando, FL
Channel: NBATV, ESPN
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Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo (out, suspension), Ersan Ilyasova (questionable), Wesley Matthews (out), Eric Bledsoe (questionable), Khris Middleton (questionable), Donte DiVincenzo (questionable)
Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr. (out), Tyus Jones (questionable), Justise Winslow (out), Jontay Porter (out)
Bucks Starting 5
It’s tough to project who the Bucks will be starting in this game as they have already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and have a laundry list of injuries to deal with. Three of the five starters I have projected are questionable for this game (Bledsoe, Middleton, DiVincenzo) and it would not be a surprise to see any of those players sit out this game. If Bledsoe doesn’t play, George Hill would be the next man up at point guard; if DiVincenzo or Middleton don’t play, Sterling Brown or Kyle Korver would likely be the first call-up on the wing.
Assuming this is the actual starting five for the Bucks for this game, Bledsoe will have to take on rookie phenom Ja Morant on the Grizzlies. Bledsoe is also averaging 15.1 points and 5.4 assists per game this season and would be a difficult cover for Morant. Alongside Bledsoe in the backcourt is DiVincenzo for the time being. The second-year player would likely be tasked with guarding Dillon Brooks in this matchup, a young wing who has been hot and cold this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton likely would have benefited from advantageous matchups in the frontcourt, but Giannis will miss this game due to his suspension and Middleton may not play either. Brook Lopez will be tasked with guarding Grizzlies’ center Jonas Valanciunas who had 14 points and 10 rebounds last time out.
Grizzlies Starting 5
The Grizzlies will need all of their young players to be at their best in order to take this must-win matchup against the Bucks. Ja Morant has been a rookie sensation as he has averaged 17.9 points and 7.2 assists per game for a surprisingly successful Memphis squad. Morant has been averaging almost 10 assists per game since the NBA resumed play in Orlando and he should have the opportunity to keep up his tremendous play against a weakened Bucks team. Alongside him in the backcourt is Dillon Brooks who is averaging 16.0 points per game this season but has been streaky too often for this team. If he can play well in this matchup, it’s likely the Grizzlies will win this game.
At the small forward spot is Kyle Anderson, a veteran player who mostly contributes with his defense and out-of-position playmaking. Anderson had 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists last time out against the Celtics. Brandon Clarke will likely start at power forward, although he was benched the last time out for veteran Anthony Tolliver. Clarke still played over twice as many minutes as Tolliver and is the starter in reality – the rookie forward out of Gonzaga has impressed this season with his ability to do all of the little things needed to help his team win. He’s done an awesome job of filling the void left behind by the season-ending injury to Jaren Jackson Jr. Finally, Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 10 rebounds in his last outing and should be able to continue his strong play despite being matched up with a top-end Bucks’ backcourt. The Grizzlies’ players will all benefit from this being a must-win game from the team while it’s not a needed victory for Milwaukee.
Bucks vs Grizzlies DFS Angle
For the Grizzlies, I love Dillon Brooks at his price of $5,700 on FanDuel and $5,500 on DraftKings. The Grizzlies’ win-loss record has been more dependent on his hot-and-cold shooting this season than just about anything else and this feels like the type of game he’ll show up and play his best ball. Ja Morant at $7,700 on FanDuel and $9,000 on DraftKings is a solid point guard target for the day as you can be sure he’ll play a playoff-level amount of minutes to ensure his team gets the win.
The Bucks have much less to play for in this contest so I’m wary of selecting any of their starters for DFS purposes. Khris Middleton at $7,700 on FanDuel and $8,300 on DraftKings is a solid play without Giannis in the game but I’m worried he won’t end up playing very many minutes as he’s dealing with his own injury issue. With the injuries piling up for Milwaukee and this game not mattering much, Sterling Brown at $3,900 on FanDuel and $3,800 on DraftKings is one of my favorite minimum plays for today if you’re trying to find cheap players to surround top-level talent.
Bucks vs Grizzlies Betting Odds
Bucks Spread: +1.5
Bucks Moneyline: +102
Grizzlies Spread: -1.5
Grizzlies Moneyline: -121
Over/Under Points Total: 231.0
My betting picks: I would avoid the spread in this game as I don’t want to lay 1.5 points with a young Grizzlies’ squad that has somewhat been struggling but it’s also hard to predict which Bucks’ team will show up today. I would honestly consider placing money on either team’s Moneyline in this game as while I do think the Grizzlies have far more to play for, the Bucks have been one of the NBA’s best teams this season even without Giannis. Finally, I would definitely push the under in this game with both of these teams prone to playing at a slower pace.
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