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Odds and Ends

Memphis & Minnesota set for low-scoring affair

by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: January 13, 2021, 2:14 pm ET

Top Game to Bet: Grizzlies at Timberwolves (-2.5)

Get ready for what should be a snoozer in Minnesota between the Timberwolves and Grizzlies. In the last 10 meetings, the Under has gone 7-3, and there are reasons to believe that trend will continue in today’s matchup.

Karl-Anthony Towns returned to the Timberwolves on Saturday versus the Spurs, playing 37 minutes and recording a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Towns sat out Sunday in a back-to-back with San Antonio and will be playing his fourth game of the season. With Towns, the game totals have gone Under 220 in one-of-three games, and without him, it's been 7-1 to the Over with Sunday having been the first Under.

Minnesota had lost three in a row at home, and seven-straight overall, before beating San Antonio on Sunday without Towns. The Grizzlies are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Minnesota and are 6-1 in their last seven. That trend fits into the under because Memphis has been far more effective on the defensive end.

The Grizzlies are playing some gritty defensive basketball, as usual, holding four of their last six opponents to 94 points or less and the other two to 108 and 110. Memphis has played seven games without Ja Morant, a healthy dosage for dissecting this team. The Grizzlies are 3-4, and not counting the first game without Morant, Memphis ranks second in the league defensively over the last six games with 98.3 points per game allowed. On the flip side, Memphis ranks 27th with only 100.3 points per game on offense during that stretch. The Grizzlies have only surpassed 100 points in three-of-six games, including their 101 versus Cleveland on Monday.

The problem for Memphis is a lack of a consistent offensive playmaker. Dillon Brooks is averaging 16.5 points in 29.4 minutes over the last six games but is only shooting 39.1% from the field. Brandon Clarke and Jonas Valanciunas present a decent big man duo that's combined for 27.2 points and 14.4 rebounds per game over the last six games, but that's not enough. Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson round out the starting five, and both have played their respective roles, but neither will strike fear into the opposition with their scoring.

I love Valanciunas in this matchup because he's going to not only slow down the Memphis offense but Minnesota’s offense too. You can expect Towns to hit his 26.8% usage rate or exceed that versus Memphis, but Valanciunas is no defensive slouch. Valanciunas ranks third in total rebounding percentage (22.5%), 19th in player efficiency rating (22.2) and 29th in defensive win shares (2.8) this season.

Both teams rank in the bottom eight in offensive efficiency, and Memphis is currently fifth in defensive efficiency. Memphis is still adjusting to life offensively without Morant, and Minnesota could go through a similar situation tonight with Towns versus Valanciunas over the next two games, then Joel Embiid and Deandre Ayton next up on the schedule.

Most of the trends point towards Memphis and the under, so I'll take a shot here in hopes both teams endure some cold stretches.

 

Players to Watch

The Grizzlies' guards will have a difficult defensive duty in slowing down D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley. Both players are notably shot dependent, and they combined to go 18-of-39 (50%) from the field in Sunday's win without Towns. Towns attempted 17 shots and six free-throws in his return from a wrist injury, and the guards combined to go 18-for-40 (45%) from the field.

In three games with Towns, both Beasley and Russell have scored at least 18 points and attempted 16 field-goals. Depending on what their props are, Russell would be the preferred play to score at least 20 points and Beasley to go Under.

Tyus Jones is getting the start versus his former Timberwolves team, and he's played 31 or more minutes in five of his last six games scoring double digits in three and eight or more in all five. Over the previous six games, Jones has double-doubled twice and averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds.

Minnesota allows the eighth-most points per game to point guards (25.76) and rank 12th in rebounds (6.27) and first versus assists (6.19). However, Minnesota also allows the fourth-most assists per game to shooting guards (5.60), so Jones could continue his assist performances. His points, rebounds and assist prop is 21.5 tonight and it’s something Jones has done in two-straight games, right in time for his revenge game. His 11.5 points are also another prop worth considering as he's scored 11 and 13 in his last two but don’t expect much as 15 points is probably his ceiling on a good night.

 

Trends to Note

The Under is 6-1 in the Grizzlies' last seven games as an underdog.

The Under is 4-1 in the Grizzlies' last five road games.

The Under is 4-1 in the Timberwolves' last five games as a favorite.

The Under is 8-2 in the Timberwolves' last 10 games as a home favorite.

The Under is 16-5 in the last 21 meetings in Minnesota.

 

Bets Locked In: Under 220 (1u)

 

Top Team to Fade: Detroit Pistons

In what seems like the 150th meeting between Detroit and Milwaukee this season, it's really going to be the third. Milwaukee won both prior meetings by 10 and 15 points and all three last year by 14, 20 and 24. Counting the postseason, Milwaukee has won by 10 or points more versus Detroit in 10-straight games and 11 of the last 12.

The Bucks are 5-0 ATS in the previous five meetings in Detroit, and after they’ve scored 125 and 130 points on the Pistons already, it's hard to back Detroit. All seven of the Bucks' wins have come by 10 or more this season, while two of their three losses have come by three and five. There's no reason to believe Detroit is pulling off an upset, so back the Bucks to win yet another game by double-digits. The Bucks have also scored 58 or more in four of their last five first-halves and 67 and 82 points versus Detroit.

 

Bets Locked In: Bucks -10.5 (1u)
 

Tuesday Night Betting Notes

Blazers at Kings: Over/Under 235.5

This is another under I like a lot tonight as the trends point to this one hitting. When these two teams meet in Sacramento, the Under has gone 4-1 in the last five games. On a colossal sample, it's 35-17, so these teams are typically lower scoring when they meet. This season Portland beat Sacramento 125-99 in Sacramento, and the second meeting will take place in California once again. Sacramento is 2-5 SU over the previous last seven games and has scored 106 or fewer in three. In Portland's last four, they've held opponents to 111 or less and won three-straight. In four meetings last year, the total went Under 235.5 three times, including two games of 234.

Mavericks at Hornets: Mavericks -4

Dallas is 14-3 ATS in their last 17 meetings in Charlotte, and the return of Kristaps Porzingis boosts the Mavs’ chances at covering. The Mavs’ matchup with the Pelicans was postponed on Monday, pushing back Porzingis' long-awaited 2021 debut. With Porzingis on the shelf, Luka Doncic has averaged 29.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists over his last four games. The Mavs are 4-1 ATS in their previous five games, and the Hornets are 4-0 ATS and SU in their last four. Something has got to give, and a win here for the Hornets would give them five straight victories, which would be the longest winning streak for the franchise since Feb. 14-27, 2018.

Hawks at Suns: Suns -5

The Suns are a tough team to figure out. They're an impressive 7-4, but three of their four losses are to Detroit, Sacramento and Washington. Atlanta snapped a four-game losing streak over the depleted 76ers team that had eight players available. No starter played more than 26 minutes versus Philadelphia, so Atlanta will be well-rested for this matchup. Atlanta struggles in Phoenix, going 1-3-1 ATS in the last five and 7-15-1 in their previous 23 meetings overall. Atlanta is down Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari, making me lean live betting this matchup. You can probably get a great value of plus-money on both teams through this game as both squads are capable of digging themselves out of a hole as quickly as they are of putting themselves in one.

Vaughn Dalzell

Vaughn Dalzell is a former Division I SID, two-time IUP Alumnus and also a contributor on numberFire, FantasyPros and Bet The Prop. You can follow him on Twitter for more insight @VmoneySports.