- The Suns might be only 4-15 on the season, but they’re talented enough to hold their own against a Pacers team that will be missing two-way star Victor Oladipo.
Here are our three top plays for Tuesday night’s NBA action:
1. Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies (+5.5)
8:00 pm ET
The Grizzlies have lost two games in a row but look for them to rebound with a win over the Raptors tonight. Toronto is one of the NBA's best teams this season, but the Raptors are exactly the type of team that Memphis has success against. Over the past three seasons, the Grizzlies are 18-15 against the spread when facing teams with a winning percentage of 70% or better. Memphis is 2-1 in that situation this season. The Grizzlies are also 8-4 against the spread when facing teams that score 110 or more points per game on the year. This Memphis team is capable of imposing its will on any given night. The Grizzlies are currently third in the league in defensive efficiency rating, and they’re also dead last in pace of play. Memphis might not be as talented as other top teams in the NBA, but the Grizzlies know how to muck games up and make them competitive. And the talent Memphis does have is at the most important positions in basketball: point guard and center. In Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies have two guys that don’t get outplayed very often. Conley needs to hold his own tonight against Kyle Lowry. Under new head coach Nick Nurse, Lowry has gone from more of a scoring guard to a guy that knows exactly when to get his teammates involved. Quite frankly, he’s looking like a modern Steve Nash. But Conley should be up for the challenge here, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Grizzlies pull off this upset outright.
Pick: Grizzlies (+5.5)
2. Indiana Pacers at Phoenix Suns (+3)
9:00 pm ET
The Pacers are coming off of one of their most impressive victories of the season, a 121-88 road win over the Jazz as a 4.5-point underdog. The Pacers were absolutely flawless in that contest, but they now turn around and play one of the worst teams in basketball. That will likely lead to an emotional letdown for Indiana. Meanwhile, Phoenix is coming off a four-game road trip and will be amped up to finally play in front of its own fans. While the Suns are just 4-15 straight up and 8-11 against the spread on the year, three of those straight-up wins came at home, and Phoenix is 5-4 against the spread at Talking Stick Resort Arena. It should only help the Suns that Indiana's Victor Oladipo will be out in this one. Oladipo is arguably the Pacers’ best player on both sides of the floor, and his absence should open things up for Phoenix's Devin Booker. Booker has had an up-and-down season, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he went off in this game. He’s the type of guy that can put up 40 on any given night.
Pick: Suns (+3)
3. Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets (-4)
9:00 pm ET
The Lakers might be coming off a loss to the Orlando Magic, but Los Angeles has been playing well as of late. Heading into that game, the Lakers had won seven of their previous games. They’re now in seventh place in the Western Conference, and they happen to be getting the Nuggets at the right time. Denver has won and covered in each of its last three games, but the team is a bit banged up right now. Not only is Will Barton still sidelined indefinitely, but both Gary Harris and Paul Millsap are dealing with injuries. Millsap is expected to play through an ailing knee, but Harris’s Achilles issue makes him more of a night-to-night uncertainty. Considering how important Harris is to the team on both ends of the floor, it hurts the Nuggets when he’s playing at less than 100%. Meanwhile, the Lakers are 22-9 against the spread when playing teams that outscore their opponents by at least three points per game since the start of last season. LeBron James also happens to be playing some incredible basketball as of late. Over the last five games, LeBron is averaging 30.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game on 53.5% shooting from the floor and 46.9% shooting from the outside. When he is playing like that, the Lakers are tough to beat. And considering he had a triple double in a win over the Nuggets earlier in the year, another good game can be expected here. Don’t be shocked if the Lakers cash in for you as well on the moneyline.
Pick: Lakers (+4)
Overall Record: 47-37-3