Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets found themselves in the NBA’s play-in tournament in their respective conferences. And while the Grizzlies made the playoffs thanks to that tournament, Charlotte was knocked out of contention at the first hurdle. Here, both teams will look to use the preseason to get themselves ready for a year where they are both aiming to make the playoffs directly.
Both the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets started their preseasons off with a win, outclassing their opponents from the opening tip. In their second preseason matchup, the betting odds suggest an evenly matched contest as both teams look to improve to 2-0 in their tune-up games. In this NBA expert pick, we look at the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Charlotte Hornets contest and offer our best bet for this game in Charlotte.
Memphis Grizzlies – May Struggle With Increased Intensity
The Memphis Grizzlies scored an 87-77 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in their first preseason matchup of 2021. That game was shortened due to a fire alarm causing the building to be evacuated, but it was Ja Morant sparking the Grizzlies prior to the stoppage. Morant scored a game-high 27 points on 11-18 shooting, and his pick and roll partner Steven Adams chipped in 11 in his Grizzlies debut.
For Memphis, the question coming into this game is how they will cope with the intensity of this game compared to their win over Milwaukee. The Bucks sat out their star players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are fresh off of winning the NBA Finals last season. Charlotte will not rest their players in a similar fashion, and the Grizzlies should get a more competitive game than they did in their preseason opener.
Expected Line-Up: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, DeAnthony Melton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
with best odds
Charlotte Hornets – Off to a Good Start
Charlotte started its preseason off with a bang against the Oklahoma City Thunder, defeating them by a score of 113-97. The Hornets scored 67 first half points to set themselves apart from the Thunder, with five players scoring in double figures for the Hornets in the game. While the Hornets did empty their bench in the contest, with no player getting more than 23 minutes, Charlotte did get their key players onto the floor.
What should be alarming for opposing defenses is that the Hornets scored 113 points despite shooting under 30% from three-point range against the Thunder. Charlotte made just nine of their 33 three-point attempts on the game, a number that is likely to improve as players get their legs back under them. That could be an unfortunate sign for the Grizzlies, who could be on the receiving end of the Hornets’ improvement from the perimeter.
Compared to the Bucks team that the Grizzlies beat in their preseason opener, the Thunder put forth more of an effort in terms of the players they put on the floor. When Charlotte beat Oklahoma City, they beat a team consisting of the Thunder players that will be on the court during the regular season as well. This bodes well for Charlotte heading into the rest of the preseason, and the regular season.
Expected Line-Up: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, Mason Plumlee
Expert Pick #1 – Hornets -1 @ -110
When looking at the current odds for this game, the Charlotte Hornets are the bet pick to be made here. The biggest reason that Charlotte is a good bet for this game is based on what the Grizzlies are missing more than what the Hornets have working in their favor. Dillon Brooks missed the Grizzlies’ first preseason game due to injury concerns, and Memphis is not likely to rush Brooks back for this ultimately meaningless contest.
With Brooks out, the Hornets will have softer matchups early in the game when the starters are involved in the contest. And just as importantly, Memphis will be forced to thrust one of their reserves into a starting role, shortening their bench for the end of the contest. Bench depth is arguably even more important in the preseason, where everyone plays, than the regular season. And the forced adjustments to Memphis’ depth will have a significant impact on the outcome here.
When all is said and done, the Charlotte Hornets are likely to come out on top in this contest as a slight favorite. They are playing at home, and have the depth advantage in this matchup with Memphis missing one of its starters in Dillon Brooks. Expect Charlotte to weather the early storm from Morant and the Grizzlies before using their depth advantage to turn the tide and win the game.