- Despite the vast gap between how the Grizzlies and Spurs have played over the past couple weeks, oddsmakers are projecting a close game in Memphis.
Here are Three at 3's top plays for Wednesday night's action.
1. Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets (-9)
7:30 pm ET
Atlanta nearly shocked the league last night, taking the league-leading Raptors down to the wire in Toronto before ultimately succumbing 104-101, but easily covering a 13.5-point spread. The Hawks had destroyed Miami 106-82 as a 6.5-point underdog in their previous game, and have played some of their best basketball of the season over the past few nights despite being without injured wings Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore.
But Atlanta will have fewer than 24 hours to recover before taking the court on Wednesday in Brooklyn, and it's not a circumstance that has been kind to the Hawks this season—they're 0-4 against the spread on the second leg of back-to-backs, and 2-7 ATS (1-8 straight up) against Atlantic Division opponents. That latter record includes a loss at the Barclays Center less than a month ago on Dec. 16, when they fell 144-127 to the Nets as 7.5-point underdogs. Kevin Huerter missed last night's game for Atlanta with a calf injury after having played at least 34 minutes in four straight games, and is questionable to play tonight. It seems like Huerter won't be at 100% even if he gives it a go, and, if he doesn't, it's a tough hit to Atlanta's depth that would be extra impactful on zero days rest.
Pick: Nets -9
2. San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies (+3)
The Spurs and Grizzlies are headed in polar opposite directions right now. San Antonio has won five straight games and has covered the spread in 14 of its last 16, and is currently in line for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Memphis, meanwhile, has lost seven straight games—including a 108-88 defeat in San Antonio as an 8.5-point underdog—and is tied with Dallas for the second-worst record in the West.
For bettors, this stark contrast in recent performance creates value for Memphis in Wednesday's matchup between these two teams. Over the last five seasons, underdogs with winning percentages between .400 and .490 that have lost by at least 30 combined points against the spread over their last three games are 47-22 ATS versus teams with winning records. In the same time frame, home teams coming off a loss to a division rival—Memphis lost to New Orleans on Monday—are 44-17 versus opponents coming off two consecutive covers as a favorite. The last time these two teams met in Memphis was on Nov. 21, when the Grizzlies won 104-103 as a 2.5-point underdog. Expect another hard-fought game this time around.
Pick: Grizzlies +3
3. Cleveland Cavaliers at New Orleans Pelicans (-14)
Exactly halfway through their season, the Cavaliers are on pace for 16 wins, which would be worse than all but four teams in 82-game seasons this decade. Cleveland has looked just as bad as their .195 winning percentage would suggest, having lost 10 straight games by an average of 17.6 points. They've lost their last four by a staggering 23.5 points per game, and their biggest loss of the year—in a season full of blowout losses—came when they lost 133-98 at home to the Pelicans on Saturday. Now, less than a week later, they must travel to New Orleans and, like most NBA teams, they are worse on the road (-11.7 net rating) than they are at home (-10.6). That doesn't mean Cleveland will lose by 40 (although don't rule it out), but New Orleans should take care of business against a spread that, while easily the largest on the board tonight, still looks awfully small for this matchup.
Pick: Pelicans -14
Overall Record: 95-76-4