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Memphis Grizzlies Lose Point Guard Marcus Smart for Several Weeks

Veteran point guard Marcus Smart will miss three to five weeks with a left foot injury, which is bad news for the struggling Memphis Grizzlies.

Grizzlies Marcus Smart injury
Memphis Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart went down with a foot injury against the Los Angeles Lakers at Arena. (Image: Getty)

Smart exited a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half last week with a foot injury. X-rays were negative, but an MRI revealed a left foot strain.

The Grizzlies were already short-handed, with All-Star point guard Ja Morant serving a 25-game suspension for various incidents involving firearms and social media.

Smart, a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, joined the Grizzlies in an offseason trade with the Boston Celtics. The Grizzlies were relying on a veteran floor general like Smart to keep the team afloat until Morant returned.

The Grizzlies struggled without Morant and started the season at 0-6. They currently have a 3-10 record.

The Grizzlies are tied for last place in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers. The Washington Wizards (2-10) are the only team in the NBA with fewer wins than the Grizzlies.

Morant is eligible to return on December 19. But the Grizzlies have to endure 12 more games without him. Smart could potentially be out until the end of December.

Grind City Add Veterans Smart and Rose

While the Grizzlies were experiencing their off-court drama with Morant, the organization brought in two veteran point guards to provide stability and leadership to the locker room. The Grizzlies acquired Smart in a three-team trade with the Wizards that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Celtics.

You always want to be where you’re wanted, and another team’s trash is another team’s gold,” Smart told The Athletic the preseason. “So, I’m glad to be here. Glad to be on an organization that wants me and sees  great value.”

Head coach Taylor Jenkins wanted Smart to be himself — a hard-nosed defender and a brash, no-nonsense veteran — while the Grizzlies navigated the first 25 games without Morant.

Smart averaged 12.5 points,5.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game in 11 games this season. He shot a career-best 42.9% from the floor, but struggled to connect from deep at 29.5% from 3-point range.

The Grizzlies signed Rose, a former MVP, in the off-season. He appeared in only one game in November due to a sore knee, but he averaged 8.2 points and 2.4 assists per game in limited action off the bench.

Smart being sidelined with a foot injury is a huge blow, especially with Rose dealing with his own health issues. The Grizzlies also lost center Steven Adams, one of the top offensive rebounders in the NBA, for the entire season while he recovers from knee surgery.

Next Man Up: Konchar and Gilyard

The Grizzlies parted ways with feisty veteran Dillon Brooks in the off-season. Jenkins has been shuffling his lineup to find the right backcourt combo to pair with shooting guard Desmond Bane after Smart went down.

John Konchar, who is in his fifth season with the Grizzlies, started in the last two games. Konchar averages 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting 40% from 3-point range. Konchar started 23 games last season when Bane sustained a toe injury.

Second-year guard Jacob Gilyard, who was undrafted out of Richmond, started four games this season for the Grizzlies. Gilyard averaged 4.4 points and 3.3 assists this season, while knocking down 48.3% of his 3-pointers.

Vince Williams, a 2022 second-round draft pick out of VCU, logged 17 minutes off the bench against the Celtics on Sunday. Williams averaged 3.6 points per game this season.

Betting the Morant-Less Grizzlies

The Grizzlies secured the #2 seed in the Western Conference in each of the previous two seasons. Despite their recent prominence in the regular season, the Grizzlies failed to advance to the conference finals. The Lakers, with the #7 seed, knocked out the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs last season.

In the last three postseasons, the Grizzlies won just five games. They were a first-round bust out in the 2021 NBA Playoffs as a #8 seed, and they were eliminated in the second round by the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.

The Grizzlies are seeking a third-straight Southwest Division title. They entered the regular season as a slight divisional favorite a +140 odds, and ahead of the Dallas Mavericks (+200), New Orleans Pelicans (+220), Houston Rockets (+4000), and Spurs (+6500).

The Mavs occupy first place in the division with a 9-5 record, and are the consensus favorite to win the Southwest at -215 odds, followed by the Pelicans (6-7) at +500, Rockets (6-5) at +800, and Grizzlies at +1600. The Rockets surprised a lot of teams with a 6-3 start, but have since dropped two games in a row.

During the preseason, the Grizzlies were +3000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA Championship. After their slow start, the Grizzlies saw their title odds slip to +12000. They’re now +5500 odds to win the Western Conference.

The Grizzlies have a 5-8 record against the point spread, and are tied for the sixth-worst ATS record in the NBA after the first 13 games of the season. They play the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday, before returning home to Memphis for a three-game homestand against the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Utah Jazz.

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Miami Heat Guard Victor Oladipo to Miss Remainder of Postseason

Miami Heat backup combo guard Victor Oladipo sustained a gruesome left knee injury, and he will miss the remainder of the NBA playoffs.

Victor Oladipo
Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo clutches his left knee after he suffered an injury against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 at American Airlines Arena in Mia. (Image: USA Today Sports)

The #8 Heat jumped out to a 2-1 series lead against the #1 Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, but they’ll have to navigate the reminder of the postseason due to an unfortunate injury to Oladipo.

With a 44-38 record, the Heat finished the regular season in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They qualified for the Play-In Tournament but lost in the opening game against the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks, who secured the #7 seed. The Heat locked up the #8 seed when they defeated the Chicago Bulls in the second play-in game.

With the #8 seed, the Heat had an opening-round date against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks were a little rusty to start their series against the Heat, who were already in postseason mode after two games in the Play-In Tournament.

The Heat upset the Bucks to win Game 1 on the road in Milwaukee by 13 points. The Bucks bounced back to tie the series with a 138-122 victory in Game 2. When the series shifted to Miami for Game 3, the Heat did not squander their home-court edge and won 121-99.

Heat Win Game 3, But Lose Oladipo

Late in the fourth quarter of Game 3, Oladipo blew past two defenders from the Bucks and tore the patellar tendon in his left knee when he tried to plant his foot and elevate for a dunk. He crashed to the floor underneath and unleashed an expletive that was loud enough to be heard on the televised broadcast. He grabbed his left knee and remained on the hardwood for a significant amount of time while medical staff attended to him.

Oladipo needed assistance off the court. He did not return to the game, and finished with eight points in 19 minutes. The Heat held on to win Game 3 in a 22-point blowout.

It was a great win, but when you see a player go down like that, that’s definitely not a good feeling to see,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “Particularly a player like Vic, who has gone through so much in the last three years.”

Prior to his injury in Game 3, Oladipo averaged 11.5 points per game in 22.5 minutes per game in the 2023 playoffs. He averaged 10.7 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game during the regular season, which marked the lowest output of his career.

The Heat were already short-handed after starting shooting guard Tyler Herro broke his right hand while diving for a loose ball in Game 1. Oladipo saw an uptick in playing time without Herro in the lineup in Game 2 and 3. Heading into Game 4, the Heat will not have two of their best shooters.

Oladipo Long Injury History

During his first season with the Indiana Pacers in 2017-18, Oladipo put up All-Star numbers when he averaged 23.1 points per game. In the middle of the 2018-19 season, Oladipo ruptured a quad tendon in his right knee and missed the rest of the season.

Oladipo has never come close to returning to anything close to the same player he was before his quad tendon injury. He lost a step on offense, and was not longer the explosive scorer that could light it up from anywhere on the court.

Oladipo appeared in just 60 games between 2019 and 2022 with the Pacers, Houston Rockets, and Heat. Last season with the Heat, Oladipo played in just eight games while he slowly recovered from an additional surgery on his quad tendon. Even though he was inactive during most of his stint in Miami, he earned the respect of his coaches and teammates for his hard work and attitude.

The physical toll of rehab is tough but mentally, it’s even tougher,” said teammate Cody Zeller. “Vic always so positive. Mentally, I don’t know how he does it. There’s a lot of long days, a lot of slow days and it’s tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m just sick for him.”

Oladipo appeared in only 42 games this season and missed nearly half the year with a sprained ankle, elbow injury, and knee soreness. He will undergo a third major knee surgery, which could prematurely end his career.

Betting the Heat/Bucks in Game 4

The Bucks face a serious injury of their own after power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a back injury in Game 1. Antetokounmpo sat out Game 2 against the Heat with a back contusion. He was considered a game-time decision in Game 3, but he did not suit up.

With the Bucks down 2-1 heading into Game 4 on the road in front of a hostile crowd in Miami, all signs point toward Antetokounmpo playing on Monday night. However, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has not indicated whether the MVP-candidate will start in Game 4.

We’ll see how Giannis looks in the morning shoot around,” said Budenholzer.

Oddsmakers opened the Bucks as -5.5 favorites in Game 4. For a second game in a row, the Heat are a home dog at American Airlines Arena in Miami. The Heat were a +2 underdog in Game 3, and easily covered the spread in their blow-out victory.

The Heat were the second-worst betting team in the NBA during the regular season with a 33-51-3 record against the spread. However, the Heat are 2-1 ATS in their three playoff games.

The Bucks were the consensus favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +265 odds when the season ended, but now they’re +310 odds. The Boston Celtics are the new outright favorite to win the title at +250 odds.

The Heat were a long shot at +25000 odds to win the championship when the postseason started. After they seized a 2-1 lead over the Bucks, the Heat saw their odds improve to +10000.

The Bucks are +190 odds to win the Eastern Conference for the second time in the last three seasons. The Heat are one of the long shots to win the east at +3000 odds.

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