The NBA’s restart plan is off and running, but while things have been going well overall from a logistical and entertainment standpoint, it hasn’t been a good few days for the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans. They’ve both lost their opening two games, making this matchup even more crucial, as they each chase the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Memphis entered the bubble in eighth place and with a 3 1/2-game lead on multiple teams. That advantage is now down to two games over the ninth-place Spurs, and a play-in tournament seems all but certain. The Grizzlies now have to make sure they maintain their spot so they have the advantage in that scenario.
As for the Pelicans, they’re still 3 1/2 games behind the Grizzlies, but have three teams ahead of them. Plus, Zion Williamson isn’t fully fit due to his leave of absence from the bubble. They need to start putting some wins on the board, and fast. Monday’s matchup with the Grizzlies is almost a must-win for them at this point.
How to Watch
- Date: Monday, Aug. 3 | 6:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
- TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: Pelicans -4.5 | Over/Under: 236.5
Grizzlies: Memphis’ grasp on the eighth seed has started to slip after two tough losses to open its time in the bubble. The Grizzlies collapsed down the stretch to give away the game to the Trail Blazers in overtime, then lost a last-second heartbreaker to the Spurs. Now, they have just a two-game lead for the eighth seed, and are going to need to turn their form around quick in order to maintain that position. In positive news, Ja Morant has been playing well inside the bubble, and they’ll need even more from him with Tyus Jones still sitting out due to a knee injury.
Pelicans: Not much has gone to plan for the Pelicans this season, and that trend continued inside the bubble. The big storyline for them has been the status of their star rookie, Zion Williamson. The No. 1 overall pick had to leave Disney World to attend to a family matter, which put him way behind in preparing for the season. That’s resulted in limited playing time over their first two games, which has been a source of frustration and controversy. After two straight losses to start their time in the bubble, the Pels are getting close to must-win territory. Monday’s matchup with the Grizzlies would be a huge victory if they can get it.
The Pelicans enter as 4.5-point favorites, and we’re going to ride with them. In the only two meetings between these teams this season, the Pelicans won both games by double digits, including a 28-point blowout in late January. Plus, New Orleans has its back against the wall at this point, and should come out with a lot to play for. Pick: Pelicans -4.5