- The Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies matchup on MLK Day at 5 pm EST (Monday, January 18th)
- Phoenix hasn’t played since January 11th due to postponements
- Get the latest Suns vs Grizzlies odds, betting preview and a pick below
The Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies face-off on MLK Day (Jan. 18, 5 pm EST). Phoenix is in action for the first time since January 11th, while Memphis is looking to build on a Saturday night win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Ja Morant returned from the Grizz on the weekend – the second-year star has an important role to play in this one.
Memphis has hustled their way to a 6-6 record on the season. Phoenix are 7-4, but have lost three of their last five, including a shock heavy defeat to the Washington Wizards in their last game.
Phoenix Suns vs Memphis Grizzlies Odds
|Phoenix Suns||-3.5 (-115)||N/A||Over 222.5 (-105)|
|Memphis Grizzlies||+3.5 (-105)||N/A||Under 222.5 (-115)|
Odds taken on Jan 17th.
The Grizzlies did a good job of treading water in Ja Morant’s absence. His return drastically elevates this team, however. Morant scored 76 points in his two games before his injury, and he was pivotal in Saturday’s win, despite playing through some rust. Phoenix has a couple of great options to throw at the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year.
Monty Williams could opt for the experience of Chris Paul, though the veteran point guard may struggle to keep pace with the explosive Morant. Williams might prefer Mikal Bridges, who has become one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. It will ultimately need to be a team effort – the Suns need to wall off the paint from Morant’s electric drives. He’s an expert playmaker who can pick out cutters and shooters if the defense collapses.
Memphis is 27th in offensive rating, which is unsurprising given Morant’s long absence and Jaren Jackson Jr.’s injury. They are 28th in three-point attempts per game and three-point percentage. The quality of perimeter looks should improve with Morant in the line-up, but this Suns team has done a great job at preventing three-point shots. Phoenix ranks number one in the NBA in opponent three-point attempts.
Deandre Ayton’s development will be a determining factor in how good the Suns are this season. On Monday, he faces one of the NBA’s underrated bigs in Jonas Valanciunas. Memphis’ offense relies on getting to the rim. They are also great at protecting the cup – they rank third in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage at the basket. Phoenix is 30th in percentage of shots at the rim, but they are efficient when they get there.
Ayton and Valanciunas have important roles to play on both ends. It’s been a rough start for Ayton on the new-look Suns. He’s taking over five fewer shots per game and scoring six fewer per contest. The defense is solid now, but the combination of the highly skilled Valanciunas and the relentless driving of Morant will test him on that end.
Valanciunas is having the sort of season we’ve become accustomed to. The former Raptor already has nine double-doubles, and he sits 12th in boards per game. The three-point numbers aren’t pretty so far – on a small sample – but Valanciunas is scoring efficiently from the mid-range. He’s 76th percentile among bigs on mid-range scoring – his trademark mix of hook shots and turn-arounds are making him an efficient scorer inside again.
While Ayton has improved as a defender, Phoenix are a much better defensive team when he’s not on the court. This could be small sample size weirdness, but it’s something to look out for on Monday.
Fouling is going to be important for both centers, too. Valanciunas is fifth in fouls per game. Ayton is 10th. Ayton’s defensive discipline will be tested by Morant – Phoenix’s test gets much harder if the former first overall pick is in foul trouble early on.
Phoenix have had a long rest. Memphis had just one day off after an intense game with the Philadelphia 76ers. The talent on the respective rosters and the difference in rest makes it easy to lean towards the Suns.
The Grizz continue to overperform expectations, however. They are 7-5 ATS on the season. While the Suns have a strong ATS record themselves, the impact of Morant’s return cannot be overstated.
Picking the moneyline for the Grizz is tempting. Early odds have them around +3.5 – they are a great bet to cover.
Pick: Memphis Grizzlies +3.5 (-105)
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