The Boston Celtics will host the Memphis Grizzlies at the TD Garden on Sunday, February 12 in a clash between two of the NBA’s top teams. The opening tip-off is set for 2 pm so that the game can end before the Super Bowl draws the eyes of every sports fan in America.
Sports wagering at three in-person retail locations became legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 31 in order to accommodate the rush of Super Bowl bets. Bill Speros of Bookies.com reports that The Bay State is set to legalize mobile betting on March 10.
Even with injuries to key players like Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, expect the Celtics to roll over Memphis on Sunday: the Grizzlies are banged up too, embroiled in controversy, and are in the middle of a free fall, winning just two of their last ten games. Playing on the road in one of the most hostile environments in sports is a recipe for disaster for a team that can’t shut out the outside noise.
What’s more, Boston is the current favorite to win it all, listed at or around +350 as for sportsbooks located in Massachusetts this could be a good opportunity for locals to place bets on the Celtics once they are fully available in the state. On the Grizzlies side, for their part, have the seventh-best odds, hanging around +1400.
A Tale of Two Seasons: Boston
Both Memphis and Boston have struggled with injuries as of late. Smart, the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. also leads the Celtics in passing with 294 assists on the season. He sprained his right ankle against the Toronto Raptors on January 21 and hasn’t played since. Boston, who leads the league with a 39-16 record, has played .500 ball in his eight-game absence.
The news got even worse following the C’s win over Philadelphia on Wednesday, as Brown took an elbow to the face and suffered a facial fracture as a result. The Celtics have been careful not to announce a timeline for his return as they continue to gather information about his injury, visiting a specialist about the fracture on Thursday.
While Boston has managed to keep trucking so far despite injuries to key players, they can’t afford to miss Brown—one of two All-Stars on the team, along with Jayson Tatum—for an extended period of time.
A Tale of Two Seasons: Memphis
Similarly, the Grizzlies lost big man Steven Adams for three to five weeks after he suffered a PCL sprain on January 22. Unlike Boston, however, they haven’t been able to keep afloat, going 2-6 without him. They’re still hanging on to the second seed in the Western Conference by virtue of a lengthy winning streak to start 2023. It also doesn’t hurt that teams just behind them like the Kings and Mavericks are skidding too, but with blockbuster trades like the Suns acquiring future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant ahead of the deadline, that might not remain the case for very long.
Poor fortune has been piling on the Grizzlies from all directions: they aren’t just losing, they’re doing so in an embarrassing and controversial fashion.
Memphis star Ja Morant got in a verbal spat with NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe just ahead of halftime in a game against the Lakers on January 20, a loss which snapped an 11-game win streak and sent them into the 2-8 tailspin they’re in now. One of Morant’s friends was banned from attending Grizzlies home games after an incident where he shined a laser beam at the Indiana Pacers’ team bus, prompting fears that it was a firearm’s laser sight. Morant has faced heavy criticism for the edgy persona he embraces, prompting him to call Memphis the most hated team in the league. He earned the second All-Star nod of his career earlier this month, was named as a reserve, and is averaging 27.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Morant’s an extremely talented player, but he’s going to have to learn to block out the noise if he wants to earn a reputation as anything more than a heel among his fellow players and fans alike.
Deadline Shakeup? Not Quite.
The trade deadline occurred at 3 pm on February 9, so the Celtics had ample warning after Brown’s injury to shore up the sudden hole. Instead, the front office decided to trust the current framework of their roster, bringing in-depth big man Mike Muscala instead of going for the home run trade.
The Grizzlies acquired Los Angeles Clippers wing Luke Kennard, a solid reserve, at the deadline as part of a three-team swap with Houston, parting ways with Danny Green and three draft picks.