Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#539 Cleveland Cavaliers 229 vs.
#540 Memphis Grizzlies -9
Friday, January 17, 2020 at 8:05pm EST
FedEx Forum, Memphis
Written by Sporty Jordy

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W/L
ATS
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#539 Cleveland
#540 Memphis
12-29
19-22
17-22-2
22-18-1
22-19
22-19
104
113
113
115

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The Cleveland Cavaliers hope to avoid a third straight loss on Friday when traveling to Tennessee to take on the streaking Memphis Grizzlies. Since falling to the Sacramento Kings, the Grizzlies have bounced back with a vengeance and won six consecutive games. Youth hasn’t stopped them from chopping down talented veteran teams like the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have lost their last two games to the Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.

Hellacious road trip continues for the Cavs

It hasn’t been an easy stretch of highway to trek for the struggling Cavaliers.

They survived an overtime game against the Detroit Pistons before upsetting the Denver Nuggets. Then back-to-back meetings with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers turned the City of Angels into the City of Punishment for Cleveland. They were ramrodded in both games after giving up 128 points on defense.

That isn’t the sort of momentum they hoped to build when traveling to the FedEx Forum to face the Grizzlies on Friday. The Grizzlies are a top-10 scoring offense averaging 125.7 points in their last three outings. Slowing down that sort of high-powered scoring potential might seem impossible for the second-worst defensive team in the league. Opposing teams are averaging 115.4 points per game when the Cavaliers are the visiting team.

With Kevin Love sidelined for Wednesday’s game against the Clippers, Collin Sexton, the team’s leading-scorer, stepped up for 25 points. They’ll need a similar effort from him against the Grizzlies’ 23rd-ranked defense.

Morant’s rapid ascension has the Grizzlies rolling

“Ja Morant is going to be an MVP in this league,” NBA analyst Tracy McGrady predicted on ESPN’s The Jump. “He’s going to be an MVP in this league, and he’s going to be arguably the best player in the game. I am going on the record and saying it right now.”

It isn’t hard to understand McGrady’s excitement considering how impressive Morant has looked this season. How many 20-year-olds can trash talk James Harden and win?

Granted, Harden still dropped 41 points on the Grizzlies, but it still wasn’t enough to stop Memphis from coming out with their sixth consecutive team victory.

They’ll look to extend the streak to eight games in a meeting with the Cavaliers.

The Grizzlies’ 16th-ranked offense will have the luxury of taking on a Cavaliers defense allowing a 49.2 field goal shooting percentage on the road. If Morant is bold enough to talk trash to Harden, he’ll be singing monologues to Sexton.

The Cavaliers clearly haven’t shown the firepower to match the Grizzlies on the offensive end of the floor. They are only averaging 103.4 points per game on the road against one of the hottest teams in basketball. Not only is Morant on the rise in the NBA, but Jaren Jackson Jr. is also an ascending talent that could help bury the Cavaliers on Friday.

Veteran forward Jae Crowder is listed as questionable for the game with a hip injury.

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The win over the Rockets is proof there is some legitimacy behind this magic carpet ride the Grizzlies on right now. Morant is truly a special talent that is already showing the playmaking abilities and confidence to lead the Grizzlies organization to the Promised Land. It’s a tough matchup for a Cavaliers team that hasn’t shown much interest in playing good defense this season.

That isn’t going to cut it against arguably the hottest team in the league right now. I don’t trust the second-worst defense in basketball to stop the myriad of young offensive weapons for the Grizzlies. Memphis is averaging a 49.1 field goal shooting percentage in their last three games.

The Cavaliers aren’t quite sure what they want to be. Love and Tristan Thompson are still on a roster that’s clearly going nowhere. A road trip to Memphis won’t yield any better results than what the Cavaliers experienced in consecutive losses in Los Angeles. I’m laying the points and taking the Grizzlies.

Prediction: Memphis Grizzlies (-8)

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The betting total is a bit much for this game even with Morant and the red-hot Grizzlies taking the floor against the struggling Cavaliers. Cleveland actually won the first outing back in December in a game where the total didn’t even cross 121 points. I don’t trust the Cavaliers to produce on the offensive end of the floor.

They really haven’t given me any reason to do so in a season where they have the fifth-ranked scoring defense in the league. Memphis is notorious for giving up points on defense, but that still won’t be enough to save the Cavaliers from the ugliest outing. Give me the under betting total here.

Prediction: Under (229)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.