Memphis Grizzlies, Ja Morant Kick Off Second Half Playoff Push In California

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With the NBA All-Star Game in the rear-view mirror, the second half of the season is all about the playoff push. And the Memphis Grizzlies are right in the thick of it.

Currently holding down the eighth seed in the Western Conference, the young Grizzlies squad is battling to keep its spot on the inside of the playoff bubble. But, by all accounts, with just 28 games remaining, Memphis has one of the tougher schedules down the stretch.

With a four-game lead over Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, the Grizzlies including Ja Morant – the current odds-on favorite to win the 2020 Rookie of the Year – and Jaren Jackson Jr. start their sprint to the end of the season on the West Coast.

Memphis’ first stop will be at the Golden 1 Center in California’s capital to take on the 21-33 Sacramento Kings. The Kings, which at one point in the off-season were thought to potentially be a playoff contender by some, have been struck by the injury bug this year. They currently are seven games back of Memphis for a playoff spot and sputtered into the All-Star break on a two-game losing streak.

Despite their woes, playing at home does have its advantages. The Kings are a slight favorite in the game.

According to FanDuel, one of the sportsbooks expected to be a major player when sports betting finally goes live in the Volunteer State, the Grizzlies are getting +1.5 points and are an even +100 on the money line. This despite coming in on a two-game win streak of their own, and an 8-2 record in their last 10.

Back in January, the last time the two teams played in Sacramento, the Kings rallied back from a 20-point first-half deficit to beat the Grizzlies 128-123 in a game that Memphis certainly will not have forgotten when stepping back on the court on Thursday.

Ja Morant represents

As mentioned above, Memphis rookie point guard Morant continues to be the leading candidate to take home the 2020 Rookie of the Year honors. Coming out of Murray State, Morant started the season as a +275 underdog to take home the trophy, right behind New Orleans Pelicans phenom Zion Williamson. Williamson was the pre-season favorite at +180 despite a high-profile injury that required knee surgery and sidelined him for two months.

With Williamson working on getting healthy, Morant has become one of the young superstars of the league helping Memphis with nearly 30 minutes of playing time a night and averaging 17.6 points a game.

Over the course of the season, Morant’s odds drastically improved from +275 to an overwhelming favorite at -700. Williamson, who is now back on the court and making waves in a big way, is currently +400 simply due to the amount of time he has missed.

All of that said, the two made for great teammates during the NBA Rising Stars game.

Lakers got next

After their stop in Sacramento, the Grizzlies are headed to the Staples Center in Southern California to take on LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers.

It should be no surprise with the firepower on the Lakers that, according to FanDuel, they are currently the favorite to win the Western Conference at +165, as opposed to the +7000 odds for Memphis, and are only behind the Milwaukee Bucks to win it all. The Bucks are currently +245 to take the championship and the Lakers are just behind them at +300.

If you are inclined to see the Grizzlies go all the way in 2020, you couldn’t really ask for better odds for a playoff potential team at +21000.

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Jeff Walsh

Jeff Walsh has been a member of the poker media for over seven years and currently serves as the Senior Writer for the leading online poker website PocketFives.com. He is also a contributor to the Sports Handle/US Bets network of sites.

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