Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 7:00 PM
A lot of suspense was taken out of the NBA Playoff chase this past weekend. There are still some things to be determined with seeding in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. But, we know who the eight bracket teams will be in the East after Atlanta clinched the eighth and final spot with a win over Miami Saturday Night (and, New York didn’t seem particularly heartbroken to miss the playoffs). And, we know who seven of the eight teams will be in the West thanks to a big win for Dallas Saturday Night over Phoenix.
All that’s left is to determine who the final team will be in the West. It’s either going to be Memphis or Phoenix…and Memphis PLAYS Phoenix Monday Night! Let’s run that matchup through our gauntlet of indicator stats. It’s a shame that one of these teams won’t be in the postseason. Either would be a serious threat to go very deep if they played in the East. (And, geographically, Memphis SHOULD be in the East!).
Memphis: 103.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #17 in the NBA)
Phoenix: 107.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #8 in the NBA)
You know Phoenix has a great offense. Memphis is probably better than you realize on a per-possession basis. Their very slow pace creates low scoring games that make it look like the offense can’t score. They’re actually league average in that skill set, and have improved markedly since getting rid of the shot-wasting efforts of Rudy Gay last year. Edge to Phoenix, but it’s not as big as you were thinking.
Memphis: 102.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #8 in the NBA)
Phoenix: 103.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #14 in the NBA)
Here it’s the other way around. Memphis is thought by some to have a fantastic defense. That’s also influenced by tempo. They’re very good to be sure, sitting at the edge of the top quarter of the league. But, they’re not quite as good as their raves. Phoenix is fractionally above average, which is probably much better than many of you were thinking. If you asked most in the mainstream media about these defenses, they’d tell you Memphis is great and Phoenix is horrible. Once you adjust for pace, the difference shrinks dramatically.
Here’s what we mean. Phoenix runs the ball. Memphis plays like turtles…the slowest of all 30 teams in the NBA. That creates high scoring games for Phoenix, but very low scoring games for Memphis. If you’re only scoreboard watching and not thinking through the process, you’re going to have misreads on these teams.
Tempo could be very important for picking Monday’s matchup in particular. If it’s going to be played like a playoff game (less running), that puts Memphis right in their comfort zone. Combine that with the fact that Phoenix is tired after just having played a back-to-back in San Antonio and Dallas, then you really have some edges favoring the Grizzlies. If you’re going to pick the Suns, be sure you can make the case that they’ll be able to run on their home floor to score enough cheap points to cover.
Against the Spread
Phoenix has been a big money team all season. They even covered the loss in Dallas Saturday Night because they were getting five points. The Suns are the biggest winner in pointspread terms this season. Memphis has been a disappointment, but did right the ship after a very slow start.
Either of these teams will be dangerous in the first rounds, even if that’s for wildly different reasons. Only one will make it to the first round! JIM HURLEY has been studying the full Monday card to find the best Las Vegas betting options for you. This game could definitely be part of the mix. Matchups involving the seeding process are also very much on the radar, as well as Major League Baseball.
You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office Monday during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Today is a great day to explore your choices for programs that take you through the NBA Playoffs or baseball’s All-Star Break.
There are no critical games on the light Tuesday NBA schedule. So, we’ll move to baseball tomorrow. Here’s this week’s tentative schedule here in the NOTEBOOK:
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview for Cleveland at Detroit
Wednesday: NBA look at Dallas at Memphis, or another game with seeding implications
Thursday: MLB Series Preview for St. Louis at Washington
Friday: Early look at Saturday’s NBA Playoff openers
Saturday: Early look at Sunday’s NBA Playoff openers
It’s a MUST-WIN MONDAY for Memphis and Phoenix. EVERY DAY IS MUST WIN FOR JIM HURLEY! That’s why he’s the biggest name in handicapping!