When the two teams with the joint-best record in the NBA met on Monday night, the fact that both participants came from the Western Conference was no surprise. Their identities, the winner of their battle and the manner of it was, however.
In dismantling the hitherto defensively sound Houston Rockets 119-93 at the FedExForum, the Memphis Grizzlies moved out of the shade to bask in glorious sunshine as the toast of the league, with a 10-1 record.
The West is notorious for its fierce competitiveness and the Rockets and Grizzlies are expected to be at the sharp end of the Conference come the regular season’s end.
But at 12/1 and 25s respectively, neither are thought to be of the calibre of NBA Championship contenders like the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Grizzlies are especially unfashionable when it comes to the NBA, with their rugged offense seen as a turn-off for fans seeking high-flying dunks and a fast pace.
Traditional basketball values, like a lockdown defense, shooting efficiency and strong team play, are at the heart of Memphis’ success and it’s a philosophy that has worked, having reached the playoffs in the last four years straight, losing the Conference Finals in 2012/13.
Whether Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and co can maintain their league-leading form for the rest of the season, remains to be seen but as they ride the longest home win streak in the league, with the best defence, there are certainly worse bets to be made on the NBA Championship.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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