nba
09.01.2024

Memphis Grizzlies @ Dallas Mavericks Game Preview and Pick: Grizz Revert Back to Pre-Morant Play

Yesterday, the news broke that Ja Morant would miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum. Between the suspension and the injury, Morant would only play nine games of the 2023-24 campaign, and despite the Grizzlies being able to win without him on Sunday night, they didn’t have much success prior to his return from suspension.

In their first game since this news broke, Memphis will be on the road to take on the Dallas Mavericks, and with the Mavs on a bit of a roll, they look to be in for an early lead tonight.

Game Preview

Coming off a win as underdogs against the Timberwolves over the weekend, the Dallas Mavericks have won four of their last five games. With a 6-4 record over their last ten games, the Mavs rank 9th in the league in NET rating, and it’s been their defense that has them ranked within the top ten.

Over the last two weeks of play, the Mavericks are 4th in points per 100 possessions allowed excluding garbage time at (111.3). By holding the Timberwolves to 44% shooting from the field and 32% from three, Dallas is now holding opponents to the third-lowest field goal percentage and 7th lowest three-point percentage within the last ten games.

Mind you, this is a Mavericks team that finished last season ranked 25th in defensive rating and, on the season, is still 17th in points per 100 possessions allowed excluding garbage time, so this is a very drastic improvement on that end of the floor. How sustainable this defensive production is can’t be answered at the moment, but for now, they pose as a tough matchup for the Grizzlies.

Memphis used a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Suns 121-115 in their most recent win, as they got 28 points from Jaren Jackson Jr. and 25 from Marcus Smart. With Morant now out for the year, the Grizzlies' offense falls back into the hands of Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane like it was at the beginning of the season.

While that duo and Marcus Smart may have been able to put up a big performance against Phoenix, it is important to remember that before Morant’s return, the Grizzlies ranked dead last in the league in offensive rating (105.9). Memphis also ranked 29th in effective field goal percentage in that 25-game span, so being able to produce like they did against the Suns seems unlikely.

Pick for the Game

The Mavericks are listed at (-4.5) point favorites in the first half across most Tennessee sports betting apps, and their defense should be able to quiet the depleted Grizzlies enough for them to build a lead. Dallas has been one of the better first-half teams recently, going 8-2 ATS in the first half of their last ten home games, while Memphis is 6-14 ATS in the first half on the road this season.

In the 25 games Memphis had to play without Morant, they ranked 29th in 1H NET rating. Even with Morant over the last two weeks, the Grizzlies still ranked 28th in points per 100 possessions excluding garbage time, so their offense is nowhere near where it needs to be to challenge a Mavericks team with the 7th best 1H defensive rating over the last ten games.

Dallas is also 6th in 1H offensive rating, and they’ve shot the lights out when playing at home in those games, ranking 2nd in true shooting percentage (65%). The Mavericks also like to get a large majority of their points from beyond the three-point line, and Memphis has been a middle-of-the-pack perimeter defending team, ranking 15th in opponent three-point percentage over their last ten games (36.4%).

Recap

  • Dallas Mavericks 1H (-4.5)(-110) on BetMGM

*odds subject to change

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