Toronto Raptors vs. Memphis Grizzlies Matchup Preview
The final week of seeding games and the race for the 8th seed in the West begins Sunday. The Toronto Raptors (49-19) will take on the Memphis Grizzlies (33-37), who are looking to hold on to a one-game lead ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers for the 8th seed. Memphis began the NBA restart by losing their first four games in a row, which allowed several teams to close the gap between themselves and the Grizzlies. Luckily for Memphis, they were finally able to get back on track, defeating the Thunder by a score of 121-92. They will need to be diligent in their final three seeding games if they wish to stay in playoff position.
Meanwhile, the Raptors had been undefeated in NBA bubble play until they lost 122-100 to the Boston Celtics on Friday. They currently sit at the 2nd seed in the East and have a 3.5 game lead ahead of Boston, who is currently the 3rd seed. The Raptors have all but locked in their position as the 2nd seed in the East and are now awaiting to see who they will play in the 1st round of the playoffs. Coach of the Year candidate Nick Nurse has put his defending champion Raptors in a prime position to make another deep run in the playoffs this year in Orlando.
Time: 2:00 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
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Grizzlies Starting 5
The Grizzlies were in desperate need of a win following the start of the NBA restart that they had. They lost their first four games of the league restart, and they also lost one of their best players to injury. Jaren Jackson Jr. tore his meniscus and will miss the rest of the season for the Grizzlies. Memphis needs other players to step up in his absence, and they got just that from a few guys in their win over the Thunder. In addition to 19+ points from Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas, and Dillon Brooks, the Grizzlies got contributions from Gorgui Dieng and Brandon Clarke off the bench. Memphis got decent contributions off the bench that game, unlike the Thunder, who ultimately lost due to a lack of production from the bench. The Grizzlies will need to see this type of play from their bench against the Raptors, who have one of the best bench units in the entire NBA. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, who are trying to hold on to that 8th seed in the West, they have a difficult final three games. Including tonight’s game against Toronto, the Grizzlies also have to play the other top seeds in the East in the Bucks and the Celtics. With only a one-game lead on Portland, Memphis needs to play the best basketball they’ve played all year this week.
Raptors Starting 5
Before Friday’s loss to the Celtics, the Raptors were on a roll. They had won all three of their bubble games, including an impressive 107-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite their loss the other night, I still think that this is a team that could make some serious noise in the postseason this year. After Kawhi Leonard departed in free agency to team up with Paul George on the Clippers, many people wrote off the Raptors. They had great depth and role players but didn’t seem to have that star piece to lead the team. However, last year’s MIP Pascal Siakam took another leap forward and became a starter in the All-Star game this year. Nick Nurse’s team has the 2nd best record in the East and has been playing extremely well in the bubble and the months before the league’s postponement. As a result of their success, it was announced that Nick Nurse was a finalist to win the Coach of the Year Award. The Raptors could be a scary team in the playoffs, as they have a great coach, depth, and championship experience. The Grizzlies, who need to keep winning to stay on pace in the playoff race in the West, will have their hands full tonight with this Toronto squad. I’d like to see the Grizzlies pull out this win, but I certainly do not expect them to.
Raptors vs Grizzlies Fantasy Basketball Angle
For the daily fantasy angle for this matchup, I’m going to be highlighting Pascal Siakam. The forward from Senegal exploded onto the scene last year for the Raptors, increasing his PPG total by nearly ten points and won the Most Improved Player Award. However, Siakam has raised his game to another level this year. Siakam is averaging 23.1 points per game and has been the focal point of the Raptor’s offense this year. He also plays solid defense and is an excellent two-way player. Considering that the Grizzlies are without Jaren Jackson Jr. due to an injury, Siakam will have a great matchup against Memphis. The Grizzlies have been starting Kyle Anderson at the four, who is not as good of a matchup as Jackson Jr. would’ve been against Siakam. I predict that “Spicy P” will have a great game against Memphis, and you should start him on your fantasy team if you have him.
Raptors vs Grizzlies Betting Odds
Grizzlies Odds: +240
Raptors Odds: -260
The oddsmakers are favoring the Raptors in this game, and that is the right choice. Toronto has been rolling this season, and I see no reason for them to slow down. The only reason why I might say that Memphis has a solid chance to win this game is due to what each team is playing for. The Grizzlies are fighting to keep their spot in the playoffs while the Raptors have seemingly locked up the #2 seed in the East. If Toronto decides to put their foot off the gas pedal, this could be a great opportunity for Memphis to get back and track and win their 2nd game in a row. Overall, I’d still probably bet that the Raptors are going to win this game.
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