When you think about all the great East-West rivalries in the NBA, Brooklyn vs. Memphis probably isn't the first, second or third to come to mind. So most would be quite surprised to learn just how competitive this series has been over the years.
The Nets and Grizzlies have actually split their last 10 meetings right down the middle. Making matters all the more awkward is the fact that the Nets have perpetually been linked to a Rudy Gay trade since James Naismith first decided to throw a soccer ball in a peach basket.
But as of late, it's looking like Gay or any other possible trade bait wasn't the answer Brooklyn's troubles. All they needed was a little P.J.
Since P.J. Carlesimo took over for the dearly departed Avery Johnson, the Nets have gone 12-2 to move Brooklyn just a game behind New York for the Atlantic Division lead. Much of that recent success can be attributed to an improved defense that has held opponents to an average of 88 points per game over their last six wins.
Then again, the Nets' defense still can't hold a candle to what the Grizzlies' have been consistently bringing to the table all season long. Memphis ranks second in the Association with 89.5 points allowed per contest and is fifth in field goal percentage allowed (43.5 percent). With all that in mind, you'd probably be wise to choose the under in this one.
The Grizzlies will also be getting a boost off the bench now that Jon Leuer is ready to roll following Memphis' depth-clearing trade with Cleveland earlier in the week. Leuer should fit quite nicely with Darrell Arthur in the second unit to give the Grizzlies some young legs in the frontcourt.
If Memphis finally gets enough production off the bench to break 100 Friday, they'll be pretty much be a sure thing to knock off the Nets. The Grizzlies are 12-0 this season when they manage to surpass the century mark.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Odds: Grizzlies by four.