It’s do or die for the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night as they try to prevent the San Antonio Spurs completing a 4-0 sweep in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
Even if the Grizzlies steal a consolation win back, history suggests it’s a lock that we’ll be seeing the Spurs in next month’s NBA Finals chasing their fifth championship of the Tim Duncan era. San Antonio are now 1.01 to advance, with Memphis at 15.00 and it’s worth remembering that no team has ever blown a 3-0 series lead since the league went to a best-of-seven format in the play-offs.
But with the Miami Heat obliterating Indiana on Monday to go 2-1 up in the Eastern Finals, it may be worth a punt on the Spurs for the title at 3.35 now – with the possibility that their ageing squad could get over a week’s rest before the Finals themselves begin.
The Grizzlies have suffered the misfortune of two overtime losses in the opening three games with the Spurs – results which could have fallen either way. But the misfiring Zach Randolph has held them back and San Antonio – and Duncan in particular – have taken full advantage.
Memphis are 1.68 to prolong this series by winning tonight, with their rivals at 2.22 for the victory and +3 on the handicap at 1.91. The total points line is 180.5 but only one game so far has gone over that mark in regulation play.
The form of Duncan, however, is the prime reason why the Spurs are on the brink of clinching. He’s averaged 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in this series – a spectacular effort for a 37-year-old who surely will retire as the best power forward in history. He’s at 1.85 to go over 18 points and the same odds to get over ten rebounds. If he manages both, it should be goodbye for Memphis.
Best bet: Take San Antonio on the handicap of +3 against Memphis at 1.91