In the fan voting for next month’s NBA All Star Game in New Orleans, one name on the ballot paper is getting vastly less love than he merits.
Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzles only just sneaks into the top ten in the West front court topped, inevitably and deservedly, by Kevin Durant.
This despite the Spaniard becoming the league’s best true centre – averaging team-highs in points (19.7 per game) and assists (4.2) while adding 6.0 rebounds.
All of which has kept a battered Memphis crew in contention in sixth place in the Conference despite a December slump and a low-scoring matrix that has them third in points allowed at 98.6 but also third-least in points obtained at 98.8.
Their defence will likely be required on Friday if they’re to become the lone team to defeat the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors and avoid a three-game skid.
The Grizzlies’ 110-89 win over the Dubs last month was the only occasion so far in which the 2015 NBA champs failed to notch over 90 points.
But Memphis has given up over 115 in losses to the Lakers and Clippers this week and conceded the century in four of their last six appearances.
And their hosts in the Bay – now possessing a 31-5 record – have racked up four victories in succession during a favourable post-Christmas schedule that sees them play nine games out of ten at home.
Gasol’s excellence alone might not save Memphis here, even if Golden State hasn’t won by more than ten since its Yuletide reverse to the Cleveland Cavaliers – odds which might make the Grizzlies on a handicap of +10.5 at 2.43 worth a punt.
Best bet: Go over 219.5 total points in Golden State – Memphis at 2.50
Two teams with issues will clash on Sunday when the LA Clippers host the Miami Heat.
The latter broke a six-game losing run on Wednesday with a narrow win over Sacramento but have confirmed Justice Winslow’s season is over.
While the Clips have rebounded from their own six-game slide after defeats of Memphis and Phoenix.
Pick the least worst here, especially at home with a total points of over 22.5 not unrealistic.
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