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NBA Preview: 27th December

WE look to dive back into the NBA calendar after the entertaining Christmas Day slate in the US.

Things are still as volatile as ever with the Covid cases continuing to wreak havoc across the league, but we’re confident we can identify some nice value on offer for punters.

Let’s take a look at today’s best;

Memphis Grizzlies @ Sacramento Kings

Memphis will look to snap a three-game losing streak when they head to Sacramento to take on the Kings.

This game is the first night of a back-to-back set for the Grizzlies as they take on the Suns tomorrow, and while this is suggestive of a potential look ahead spot I expect Memphis to bounce back strongly in this one – especially given then fresh legs available having played just once in the last five nights.

Ja Morant gets his third start after returning from injury as the young core of this exciting Memphis team slowly becomes healthy and available. Their starting lineup has only managed to log 150 possessions together so far this season, with Dillon Brooks missing the start of the season.

That on-court chemistry is vital for any team, especially for one as young as Memphis, so I’d expect to see more consistency from them in the coming weeks assuming they avoid any more injury/illness related news.

Meanwhile, the Kings season has been a usual train-wreck. They’ve already fired their head coach and even in the aftermath of that they’ve not been able to find any consistency in results or performances – they come in having lost eight of their last 10 games.

Over the past fortnight they have graded as a bottom third side on both ends of the court and are 29th in the league in point differential, allowing 5.0 points per 100 possessions more than the league average

The season head-to-head hasn’t been particularly close between these two sides and is reflective of how they are trending overall.  Memphis has easily dealt with the Kings, scoring more than 120 points on both occasions and winning by more than 20 points.

The key to their success has been taking full advantage of Sacramento’s poor defence and the frequency that they allow opponents to attack in transition by not having a set defence.  The Kings rank amongst the worst in the league for opponent transition frequency and points allowed off steals and rebounds – a script that suits this young Grizzlies’ team that ranks second in the league in transition frequency.

Sacramento is a side that prefers to play a fast-paced transition game but their poor defensive efforts mean that Memphis can control this game and force the Kings into half court sets where their offence has struggled for most parts of the season.

De’Arron Fox is questionable to return for this game and if he does the Sacramento offence will get a nice bump in pace, which will be a welcome sign with both teams already ranking in the top-10 for fastest paced sides over their previous five games.

I make Memphis 6.5 point favourites in this spot and my model has them winning by around 10 points.  While I’m slightly concerned about this being the first of a back-to-back for the Grizz I think they take care of the Kings and get back in the winner’s circle here.

Our best bet: Memphis Grizzlies -5.0 $1.92 at PlayUp


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