Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers NBA Picks: Will We Get a Low-Scoring Game in Portland?

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Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies. Justin Ford/Getty Images/AFP

Two teams heading in opposite directions clash when the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies visit the reeling Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. Here’s a complete preview, including betting odds and free NBA picks

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Wednesday, December 15, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Moda Center

The Grizzlies opened at -1.5 at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review) and FiveThirtyEight have them at +1, giving them a 47 percent chance to win. For support, we turn to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin’s projections; he has the Grizzlies at -0.23 using his Rating numbers and at -2.06 using his eigenvector analysis. Bovada (visit our Bovada Review) set the total at 219.5 in their NBA odds board and Sagarin projects these two teams to combine for 222.98 points. 

A Tale of Two Teams

The Grizzlies (17-11 SU and ATS) have won eight of their last nine games, including three in a row, all without star point guard Ja Morant (plus-5.3 Offensive Box Plus/Minus), who’s out with a left knee strain. Memphis is 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS since Morant went down. Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane have all stepped up their games significantly and everyone is engaged at both ends of the court. This is a hungry, fun to watch team that can go very far once Morant comes back.

The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, are off to a disappointing start (11-17 SU and 10-17-1 ATS) and they’ve lost nine of their last 10 games, including their last six contests. Damian Lillard’s minus-0.2 Box Plus/Minus is his career-low, CJ McCollum (right lung pneumothorax) and Cody Zeller (right patellar fracture) will likely miss this game and it seems that this roster isn’t built for Dame’s talents – with Jusuf Nurkic (plus-2.5 Box Plus/Minus) and Cody Zeller (minus-1.9 Box Plus/Minus) at center, neither a threat from distance and no offense to Larry Nance Jr. (minus-0.1 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) but when he’s your biggest free agent signing then something is wrong.

To make matters worse, there’s no update yet on how long McCollum and Zeller are expected to be out. McCollum’s defense (minus-2.2 DBPM) is poor enough to make him worth just plus-0.2 Box Plus/Minus overall, or 1.8 points per 100 possessions better than his backup Nassir Little (minus-0.9 Offensive Box Plus/Minus, minus-0.7 Defensive Box Plus/Minus). These are just stats, of course.

Key Matchups 

Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Larry Nance Jr. and Robert Covington

Jaren Jackson Jr. is averaging 20.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 27.8 minutes in his last nine games and the Trail Blazers have to at least contain him if they want to keep up with the Grizzlies. Larry Nance Jr. and Robert Covington will likely guard him in intriguing matchups that can determine the outcome of this game. Nance Jr. and Covington combined for just 17 points on Tuesday’s 111-107 overtime loss against the Suns at home and they need to play much better on defense as well.

Prediction

I’m putting the Under in our NBA picks for Wednesday’s matchup. Both teams run the floor at a relatively fast pace but the Under is 4-2 in Memphis’ last six games and 4-2-1 in Portland’s last seven games. The Trail Blazers will play the second game of a back-to-back after last night’s tough overtime home loss against the Suns and Brooks, Jackson and Bane will likely regress soon.

NBA Pick: Under 219.5 (-108) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Under 219.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.