Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Denver/Memphis under 221½ -110
7:00 PM EST. It's hard to ever bet against the Nuggets in any situation but after all the celebrations and another beautifully adequate performance at home on opening night, this game presents as a tougher situation than most.
The Nuggets command respect and they should. They've done next to nothing in the offseason, which, in the modern NBA, is an advantage for a team with their level of chemistry. On the other hand, we'd be remiss to ignore how vulnerable they can be in these road spots. That vulnerability only becomes more pronounced because they're last year's champs. With a brand new shiny target on their back and as the favorites in the West, ascending teams like the Memphis Grizzlies will make no concessions when they invite Nikola Jokic and his teammates to their home arena. And we love that for our angle tonight.
Memphis lost their first game but it was hardly a surprise. The New Orleans Pelicans are healthier than they've been in quite some time and they took it to Memphis in their opener. Zion Williamson, who finally looks fit and ready to conquer, put up 23 points and Memphis struggled to limit his supporting cast. New Orleans shot 47% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc, both marks that will surely regress, but it was enough to outlast the Grizz on their home floor. We know Memphis' defense is better than what it showed Wednesday.
We also know that Denver isn't as proficient on the road. We witnessed their offensive marks drop all last season away from Colorado, and Jokic had some of his worst offensive performances against the Grizzlies'. In three 2022-23 games he only averaged 15.3 ppg, and a large part of that is because he has to match up against one of the best defensive players in the NBA.
Last year's AP Defensive Player of the Year, Jaren Jackson Jr., has zero intimidation when it comes to Jokic or any center in the league. The big-man has mastered how to use his length and physicality, and without Steven Adams he'll be almost solely responsible for limiting the former MVP. Regardless, it's a matchup we trust. The Grizzlies will also need to rely on their defense without Ja Morant, who's suspended for the first 25 games, and they've proven they have the personnel and moxie to make it happen in season's past.
Memphis is on a back-to-back starting tonight, and we've seen teams attempt to conserve energy in these situations. Love it or hate it, "rest management" is a part of the NBA paradigm now. We shouldn't just anticipate it, we should expect the Grizzlies to either rest more players tonight or give an all out effort to get their first win. We imagine it's the latter. For what it's worth, Denver's road trip doesn't get any easier, either, as they head to a sleepy OKC spot on Sunday following this battle. We could see Jokic and other starters getting more time to rest as Denver, who is expected to win this game, works on more rotational experiments. The pace should be low and the physicality should be high between two Western Conference rivals, and all these elements add up to a very clear wager. Sportsbooks are ticking down this number, so take it now before it continues to drop!
Denver/Memphis Under 221½ -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)