January 14, 2016 (3:55 PM ET)
There are two picks tonight.
1) Take Detroit Pistons at +1 spread against Memphis Grizzlies for 3% of the bankroll.
Mario Chalmers is a good point-guard but he's no replacement for long-serving Memphis PG, Mike Conley. Conely has been dictating plays for the Grizzlies offense for years and is a well-respected individual in the locker room. He has missed the last 4 games and is likely to sit this one out as well due to a sore left Achilles. Conley is one of the most under-rated players in NBA mainly because he's a great two-way player, able to impact the game at both ends of the court. While Chalmers can run the offense fairly efficiently, his defensive skillset are not up to par. With Conley sidelined and Courtney Lee an ineffective defender, that leaves Tony Allen with entirely too much to do. Against the explosive Reggie Jackson and Brandon Jennings, the former of whom has a big size advantage over Memphis guards, even Conley would have had trouble but against Chalmers, it'll be even more of a mismatch! To make matters more difficult, shooting-guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is having an excellent season for Detroit and also needs to be paid attention to. Stan van Gundy's team has a big advantage at the guard positions tonight and will have a strategy to turn that favorable matchup into a victory.
The Pistons have had this day circled on their calendars for the past month. That's because they have not forgotten how the last meeting against Grizzlies ended. Back on Dec 9th, an improbable half-court shot by Matt Barnes was the buzzer-beater as Dave Joerger's side somehow escaped 'The Palace' with a 1-point win! Reggie Jackson admitted afterward that this game was a tough one to forget and one that they'll be looking for retribution later. The Pistons allowed 9 offensive boards in the 4th quarter of that game and were outplayed in the final minute. Jackson has been clutch in closing time all season however and seems to relish the 'pressure' that comes in such moments. He wants the ball in his hands and is confident of making something happen which is the opposite of what Courtney Lee and Mario Chalmers display. Those two will make plays but aren't naturally confident players, they are the type that need to see shots go in before believing in themselves. With Conley's quiet confidence and leadership absent, it wouldn't surprise us if Memphis choked when the going got tough and it was the Pistons that triumphed this time. This is the 2nd and final meeting between these two non-conference foes and Detroit will no doubt be looking for revenge!
Matt Barnes missed the last game due to a thumb contusion but should play tonight. Nonetheless, it doesn't appear like he's 100%. He and Conley aren't the only injuries worries for Memphis. Jeff Green did not play in the second half of the game against Houston Rockets, logging only 15 minutes in total. He, too is banged up and at less than ideal condition despite being expected to suit up and take the court. The Pistons on the other hand come into this game with all their weapons at their disposal and are finally healthy. They have matchup advantages in certain positions against this depleted Grizzlies squad and will look to convert that into a W in this contest. Furthermore, while both teams are in bounce-back mode after losing in their last game, the Pistons were beaten by the Spurs and will have learned a lot from that game. This is a step down in competition after facing San Antonio and we believe they'll be in a better position to get the win. It's also worth noting that despite owning a superior winning percentage than their opponents, the Pistons are far from 'safe' as far as making the playoffs go, given that the Eastern conference has as many as 12 teams battling it out for 8 post-season spots! The Grizzlies, on the other hand are 4.5 games ahead of the current 9th place team in the West, Portland Blazers and at this stage, can afford a loss or two.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Grizzlies are just 6-15 against teams with winning records!
- Pistons are 7-2 after allowing 105 or more points in their previous game.
- Andre Drummond (NBA's leading rebounder) will be fresh after logging only 28 minutes against Spurs.
2) Take Iowa at +9.5 spread against Michigan State for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an extremely interesting matchup as the Michigan State Spartans take on the Iowa Hawkeyes for the second time this season. The Spartans have had a tremendous start to the season, opening up the year with a near perfect 16-1 record! What is so interesting about this matchup is that fact that the lone loss on the Spartans resume has come at the hands of these same Iowa Hawkeyes. The Spartans were dominated on the road in the first meeting, ultimately losing to the Hawkeyes by a score of 83-70. Quite a bit has changes since that meeting as the Spartans are now at home in East Lansing and will likely have their unquestioned leader, Denzel Valentine, back on the floor for this contest. This is no doubt a revenge game for the Spartans and they will likely come into this contested motivated to atone for their lone loss on the season. On the surface it appears that this would be a great time to back the Spartans especially with Valentine returning to the lineup, we don’t believe that will be the case. While Michigan State will certainly be in a solid position to pick up the win and get their revenge, we do believe that this line has been pushed too far.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are no pushover of a team and should not be overlooked. At 12-3 on the year, they have already put together a strong resume thus far this season going against a tough schedule and are 3-0 in conference play. The Hawkeyes are solid on both sides of the ball and come into this contest ranked 34th in the nation in scoring offense and 104th in total defense. While many are predicting that the return of Valentine will be an added boost to the Spartan's rotation in this contest, his presence could also be a hindrance in the early part of this game. Valentine has been out for a number of weeks with an injury and as we have seen many times in the past, it often takes a player the caliber of Valentine a game or two to get back to playing at the level everyone has been accustomed to seeing. Expectations may be a bit too high in his first game back and his early struggles could be the difference in this contest.
The Spartans are a solid all around team; there is no doubting that; however they have also shown that they are not a team that blows out the competition night after night. They are fundamentally sound, but do lack the explosiveness needed to win by large margins! They get their wins by playing solid, fundamental basketball relying heavily on their defensive and rebounding skills. In their first meeting this season, Iowa was able to exploit the Spartans and get to the free throw line with regularity. They went 23 of 31 from the stripe, outscoring the Spartans by 10 at the line. The Hawkeyes also had an extremely strong presence under the rim, blocking 11 shots in that contest.
While we don't necessarily expect the same results in this contest tonight, the swing in this line was huge. In their meeting back on December 29th, the Hawkeyes were listed as a -2.5 point favorite in that contest and went on to win by double digits. This matchup opened up with the Spartans being listed as 6 point favorites and the betting public has no doubt inflated this line another couple of points expecting the Spartans to gain their revenge tonight. The fact that this line has shifted nearly double digits in this matchup in just a few short weeks is simply too much! Iowa is still a quality team that is not getting the respect that they deserve in this contest. Even if the Spartans do manage to get their revenge, we believe the Hawkeyes can keep this contest competitive and stay within this generous point spread.
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