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Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22). (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
March 15th, 2022
Put your hand up if you thought Memphis would have the second-best record in the NBA with less than a quarter of the season remaining. Anybody? Anybody at all?
You’re not alone if you second-guessed the Grizzlies, who entered 2021-22 with just the 15th best odds to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June. Of course, that was before Ja Morant went supernova. The high-flying point guard is posting career-highs in points (27.5), rebounds (5.8), and steals (1.2) in his third season, while also leading the league in "OH MY GOD, DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?!" plays. Whether it’s a posterizing slam or a soul-crushing block, Morant manages to do something on the court every night that bends the laws of physics.
We interrupt #KlayDay to show you this absolutely ridiculous block by Ja Morant 🥷 pic.twitter.com/nQDsCMz1mG— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 10, 2022
We interrupt #KlayDay to show you this absolutely ridiculous block by Ja Morant 🥷 pic.twitter.com/nQDsCMz1mG
Morant’s play has emboldened his teammates and has Memphis poised to make a deep postseason run for the first time since the franchise’s glorious "Grit-and-Grind" era. And although Ja is doubtful tonight due to back soreness, the Grizzlies still have plenty of other potent weapons, with four other players averaging double figures this season.
It’s been a different story in Indiana, where the 23-46 Pacers are on the brink of being eliminated from postseason play. Indy signaled its intention to build towards the future on Feb. 8, when it sent two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento in a blockbuster six-player trade that netted guards Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. The Pacers have since limped to a 4-10 record as head coach Rick Carlisle has force-fed minutes to the team’s young core.
Grizzlies vs. Pacers gets underway tonight at 7 p.m. ET, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
Someone will have to pick up the scoring slack if Morant sits tonight, and no one is better suited to the task than Desmond Bane. Not only is the sophomore swingman averaging a career-high 17.8 points this season, but he also scored 21 points or more in six of the 10 games Morant missed from Nov. 30 to Dec. 19. That included a 29-point tour-de-force against Dallas in which he shot 12-20 from the floor and 4-6 from beyond the arc.
There are few NBA players I have more respect for than Desmond Bane. Bane has just methodically gotten better every single year. When he was a soph at TCU, was a floor spacer/cutter. Tonight, he dropped 29 pts, with most being self-created 2s. His development is so impressive. pic.twitter.com/3bwT5W8H54— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) December 5, 2021
There are few NBA players I have more respect for than Desmond Bane. Bane has just methodically gotten better every single year. When he was a soph at TCU, was a floor spacer/cutter. Tonight, he dropped 29 pts, with most being self-created 2s. His development is so impressive. pic.twitter.com/3bwT5W8H54
Bane has also been especially hot lately, and is averaging 21.4 points in his last five outings. Memphis has had a "next man up" mentality all season long, and Bane will be ready to answer the bell tonight when the game begins.
Although many Pacers fans were understandably upset to see Sabonis leave, Indiana managed to snag a gem in Haliburton. The 6’5” point guard is still just 22-years-old, and possesses the size, touch, and basketball IQ to be a star for the next decade. Haliburton is averaging 19.6 points and 9.5 assists per game since landing in the Hoosier State, and has provided the kind of steadying influence and leadership the young Pacers sorely need.
Tyrese Haliburton averaging 19.6 PPG & 9.5 assists since trade to the Pacers! @TyHaliburton22 pic.twitter.com/BGeB8rOJCJ— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) March 15, 2022
Tyrese Haliburton averaging 19.6 PPG & 9.5 assists since trade to the Pacers! @TyHaliburton22 pic.twitter.com/BGeB8rOJCJ
More importantly, at least for this prop, Haliburton has recorded a double-double in three of his past four games. He would have gone 4-for-4 had he not finished one assist shy in a dynamic 25-point, nine-dime performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 8. Fellow point guard Malcolm Brodgon is still day-to-day with a concussion, meaning even if he does play his contributions will likely be limited. Take the Over, and enjoy watching one of the league’s top emerging playmakers in action.
Brogdon’s presumed absence will also open up more opportunities for Hield, who has seen a significant uptick in his minutes and scoring since departing Sacramento. Long perceived as one of the NBA’s top long-distance threats, "Buddy Buckets" is averaging 3.1 made 3-pointers since joining the Pacers, and has nailed three treys in a game three times since the calendar flipped to March. Yes, that’s a lot of "threes," and that’s precisely what bettors can expect again tonight against a Memphis defense that allows opponents to chuck up a robust 35.0 3-point field goals per game.
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