Whatever the winds of change, or the moves from East to West and back, there seems one constant in the NBA: that the Memphis Grizzlies keep rolling along.
It is often said that there are two places you want to be as a team: either contending for the title or in the mix for a Draft Lottery pick. To be in the middle is death, not good enough to threaten a championship, not sufficiently bad to offer the option of a rebuild.
Yet for seven years now, an era that – without coincidence – spans the coexistence of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, the Griz have happily rumbled along in the netherworld in between, staying well away from the bottom feeders but not moving into the elite despite their lone appearance in a Conference Finals in 2013 when they were brutally swept by the Spurs.
Having opened 3-0 for the first time in franchise history, it’s safe to say that Memphis is going to remain a side you can rely upon for regular victories and safe returns, even though their lone major offseason acquisition was the 37-year-old Vince Carter amid their latest front office upheaval.
To date, they’re allowing a league-low 86.3 points per game – although scoring an equally miserly 91 per – and they have the good fortune of avoiding any genuine contender during their opening ten games (apart from the much-weakened OKC Thunder), all but ensuring an optimistic start.
That should continue tonight when the New Orleans Pelicans come to the Fedex Forum, although their twin towers of Anthony Davis and Omer Asik should provide Gasol and Randolph with a busy evening.
With the quartet likely cancelling each other out, it all points to a low scoring grind – and probably an ugly encounter, with the Grizzlies favoured by -4.5 on the handicap at 1.97.
But there’ll be few complaints down Tennessee way. A title – at 51.00 - might again be beyond them but with more wins and losses coming up, it sure beats being bad.
Best bet: Go under 188.5 total points in Memphis-New Orleans at 1.92.