The Utah Jazz have games Friday at home vs. Detroit and then a big one Sunday at Golden State, and I wouldn’t expect leading scorer Donovan Mitchell to play against the Pistons because he’s in the concussion protocol – but you know he’ll want to be out there against the Warriors in a potential playoff preview. Here’s a look at two other intriguing matchups this weekend. Check back for NBA odds.
Best NBA betting of the weekend
Grizzlies at Nuggets, Friday
This could be a Western Conference playoff preview and features two top MVP candidates in Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP.
Morant, Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic and LeBron James are the only players in the NBA averaging 24+ points, 5+ rebounds and 6+ assists per game. The Grizzlies continue a stretch where the team plays nine of 10 against opponents currently over .500, including three teams on this four-game trip (Milwaukee, Denver, Dallas). Memphis has won the most games in the NBA against teams with .500-or-better winning percentages this season (17-10 record).
Morant is the ninth-fastest in NBA history (155 games) to reach 3,000 career points and 1,000 career assists behind only Oscar Robertson, Tiny Archibald, Isiah Thomas, Damon Stoudamire, Allen Iverson, James, Trae Young and Doncic.
The Grizzlies are one of four teams to rank in the NBA top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating, joining Miami, Milwaukee, and Phoenix. Memphis leads the NBA with six wire-to-wire victories this season, most recently on Jan. 3 at Brooklyn. The Grizzlies also have an NBA-best 10 double-digit comebacks this season.
Jokic has nine triple-doubles this year, tied with Russell Westbrook for the most in the NBA. Memphis is 2-0 vs. Denver this year. They played back-to-back games in Memphis earlier this year. The most recent was Nov. 3, a 108-106 Grizzlies win. Jokic had his 11-footer to tie the game bounce off the front of the rim as times expired. He had 34 points and 11 rebounds. Morant had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Lakers at Heat, Sunday
Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Doubtful as the Lakers don’t look good enough to get there, but not impossible if they get their act together. Of course, this will be a homecoming of sorts for LeBron James in Miami.
The big news here is that Los Angeles could finally see the return from injury of Anthony Davis. He has been cleared for contact after a clean MRI on his knee and the Lakers are “hopeful” he’ll return during this six-game road trip. One person close to the organization suggested Davis could return as soon as Sunday against Miami.
“Everything looked clean on the MRI and the check-up with the doctors, so he’s been cleared for an on-court ramp-up with contact,” coach Frank Vogel said this week. “That doesn’t mean we’ll have a timeline, there’s still a re-conditioning and ramp-up involved, so we won’t have a timeline on it.”
While the Lakers received good news on Davis, the same could not be said for guard Kendrick Nunn. Nunn has yet to play for the Lakers this season due to a bone bruise and Vogel announced that his ramp up period did not go according to plan and his debut will need to wait.
Miami may not have Sixth Man of the Year favorite Tyler Herro as he entered COVID protocols on Wednesday. Maybe he can be cleared by Sunday. Herro has scored a team-leading 786 points this season, already just 29 short from his single season high of 815 in 2020-21. Additionally, he has made a team-leading 290 field goals, only 17 shy from his single season high of 307 in 2020-21 and has dished out 153 assists, tying the second-most on the team, as he is just 31 short from his single season high of 184 in 2020-21.
This will be the 68th meeting between the two franchises, with the Lakers holding a 38-29 all-time lead. Overall, the Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 meetings with the Heat. Of course, the teams met in the 2020 NBA Finals in the bubble and the Lakers won.
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