Has the NBA's play-in tournament been a success? Judging by TV ratings and betting action, the answer is yes and it surely will be here to stay. This year's version concludes Friday when the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Golden State Warriors, who are 4.5-point favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds. Steph Curry is given a huge Over/Under point total for the Warriors, who remain without the injured Kelly Oubre and Damion Lee. Meanwhile, what's up with Memphis' Brandon Clarke?
Memphis was a 4-point home favorite Wednesday and beat San Antonio 100-96 behind 23 points and 23 rebounds from Jonas Valanciunas, who has truly become one of the NBA's best centers and a big reason the Grizzlies led the NBA in points in the paint during the regular season at 55.8. It was his fourth 20/20 game of the season (although technically stats in play-in games apparently don't count in official NBA record books), most in the league.
Dillon Brooks had 24 points, and Ja Morant recorded 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. The former Rookie of the Year made the game-clinching free throw to make it a two-score game in the final seconds.
In a surprise, Clarke was a DNP-CD. The former Gonzaga star has been dealing with right thigh soreness but did play in the regular-season finale. Clarke was a solid contributor this season, averaging 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds and started in 16 of his 59 games. Perhaps it was just for matchup reasons Wednesday, or maybe he's not healthy.
As for the Dubs, no surprise they will remain without Lee (COVID protocols) and Oubre (wrist) and neither would be expected for Sunday's Game 1 at Utah if Golden State advances.
Golden State was +6 at the Lakers on Wednesday and looking good up 13 at the half but lost 103-100 in a game that drew 5.6 million viewers on ESPN, the most-watched NBA game on the network since the 2019 Western Conference Finals. More people watched that game than the 2020 Big 12 & Pac-12 Championship football games and all but nine regular-season CFB games. Only two Christmas games this year had better ratings overall (not shown on ESPN). Obviously, it helped that Wednesday was Steph Curry vs. LeBron James.
Curry was given an Over/Under of 36.5 points vs. the Lakers, and he landed on 37 by making two free throws with 1:23 left to tie the game at 100. William Hill oddsmakers have opened him at a nearly unthinkable 38.5 points for this one. That Curry scores at least 40 and Golden State wins is yes-only at +200.
The Warriors were 2-1 vs. the Grizzlies this season, including a 113-101 win in San Francisco in the final day of the regular season behind Curry's 46 points. That earned Golden State the No. 8 spot and put Memphis in the 9 vs. 10 game.
Curry averaged 32.4 points at home this season and Sunday was the lone game he played against the Grizzlies. When the teams played back-to-back in Memphis on March 19-20, Curry sat both due to an injured tailbone. This will be the Warriors' first-ever "playoff" game at the Chase Center. The team is allowed 35% capacity currently.
Free NBA Prop Pick: Curry Under 38.5 points (-120). Steph is awesome, but that number is crazy high and the Grizz are a very good defensive team -- Brooks is a lock-down defender who shut down the Spurs' DeMar DeRozan on Wednesday. Yes, Curry had 46 vs. Memphis on Sunday, but it took 36 shots.
Where does every player appear in our 2021 Fantasy football rankings? And which rookie quarterback will provide shocking value? Join SportsLine right now to get 2021 Fantasy football rankings, all from the model that simulated the entire season 10,000 times.