The Memphis Grizzlies lost center Brandon Clarke to a season-ending Achilles injury.
The Clarke injury is huge blow to the Grizzlies, who were already playing without starting center Steven Adams. Adams, the NBA’s top offensive rebounder, sustained a right knee injury in late January. The Grizzlies do not know when Adams will return.
Head coach Taylor Jenkins utilized a small-ball starting lineup without Adams, and continued to bring Clarke off the bench with the second unit. The Grizzlies went 7-9 since the Adams injury.
Until Adams returns, the Grizzlies lack a traditional center on their roster. Power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has been defending opposing centers during Adams’ absence, but he’s more effective in the power forward slot and not as a center.
In 56 games this season, Clarke averaged 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 19.5 minutes off the bench. He shot an efficient 65.6% from the floor this season.
Santi Aldama, a second-year power forward, is the only other big man in the playing rotation. Aldama averages 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season, and he’s expected to play more time in the center position with the second unit.
Grizzlies Drop Season Series to #1 Nuggets
The Grizzlies are in second place Western Conference standings with a 38-24 record. They trail the first-place Denver Nuggets (45-19) by six games. However, the Sacramento Kings (37-26) are in third place and only 1.5 games behind the Grizzlies.
On Friday night, the Nuggets hosted the Grizzlies in the battle of the top two teams in the Western Conference. The game was hyped up as a potential playoffs preview of the 2023 Western Conference Finals.
The Nuggets fell behind by double digits in the first half, but their defense hunkered down and held the Grizzlies to 38 points in the second half. The Nuggets rallied to win by 16 points, and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic tallied his 25th triple-double of the season in the comeback victory.
The Grizzlies and Nuggets met three times this season, and the Nuggets won the regular-season series 2-1. The Nuggets improved to 29-4 at home in Denver, which is the best home record in the NBA this season.
Clarke suffered a leg injury against the Nuggets late in the first quarter. He logged only two minutes of game time before he was spotting limping. He needed assistance off the court and did not put any pressure on his left leg.
On Saturday, the Grizzlies revealed that Clarke sustained a torn left Achilles, and he’ll miss the remainder of the regular season and postseason with the left leg injury.
Morant Out 2 Games, #2 Seed in Jeopardy
The Grizzlies will not have All-Star point guard Ja Morant in the lineup for at least the next two games. Morant stepped away from the team after he was spotted brandishing a firearm in a live video on Instagram.
The NBA launched an investigation into the matter, and it’s unknown if Morant will earn a suspension by the league. The Grizzlies are 4-5 without Morant in the lineup this season.
Morant issued a public apology, but he’s been the subject of numerous incidents in recent weeks. Morant’s friends flashed a firearm at the Indiana Pacers’ team bus after a game in Memphis earlier this season. Earlier in the week, a police report surfaced that Morant physically assaulted a teenage guest during a pickup basketball game at his house last summer.
The Grizzlies have 20 more games remaining in the regular season, but face the easiest schedule. Their opponents having a combined .465 winning percentage.
The Kings have the fifth-hardest remaining schedule with 19 games to go, and their opponents have a .524 combined winning percentage.
The Grizzlies are 26-5 on their home court at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, which is the second-best home record in the NBA. They’re awful on the road this season with a 12-19 away record. It’s vital for the Grizzlies to hold on to the #2 seed, and retain home-court advantage in the first two rounds of the postseason.
The Grizzlies are finishing up a four-game road trip with consecutive games in Los Angeles, but both opponents are in must-win situations. The Clippers (33-33) lost five games in a row and slipped to eighth place in the conference. Meanwhile, the Lakers (30-34) are currently on the Western Conference playoff bubble in 11th place.
Betting the Grizzlies Down the Stretch
On Sunday night, the Clippers are -7 favorites over the banged-up Grizzlies. Both teams have a losing record against the point spread. The Clippers are 32-34 ATS this season, and the Grizzlies are 29-31-2 ATS. Since losing Adams to a knee injury, the Grizzlies are 7-10 ATS.
The Grizzlies are 10-20-1 ATS as an away team, which is the second-worst betting record on the road in the NBA this season.
The Grizzlies are +2000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, according to DraftKings. Their title odds were +1700 at the start of the week, but oddsmakers made an adjustment after the latest Morant incident.
The Grizzlies are +800 odds to win the Western Conference and advance to the 2023 NBA Finals. They’re fifth on the futures board even though they’re in second place with the #2 seed.
FiveThirtyEight estimates the Grizzles have a 20% chance to advance to the NBA Finals, yet only have a 10% chance to win the championship.
The Grizzlies have the inside track to winning back-to-back Southwest Division titles. They hold a six-game lead over the Dallas Mavericks (33-31), who currently occupy sixth place in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies are -1200 odds to win the division, and the Mavs are +650.
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