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Mavs, Grizzlies battle for No. 7 seed Wednesday
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 4/16/2014  at  6:01:00 AM
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Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Memphis -3.5, Total: 190

Two teams playing for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference will meet on the final day of the NBA regular season when the Grizzlies try to avoid being swept in the series by the visiting Mavericks.

Both clubs have identical records of 49-32, which will give the winner of this game the No. 7 seed with the loser having to face the top-seeded Spurs when the playoffs begin this weekend. Both teams are finishing the regular season on fire with Dallas winning five of six (3-3 ATS) and Memphis taking four straight contests (2-0-2 ATS). While the Grizzlies are favored being at home where they are 26-14 SU (17-22-1 ATS), including 13 straight SU wins, the Mavericks have been tough to beat on the road with six straight victories (5-1 ATS) to improve to 23-17 SU (26-14 ATS) away from home this season. Dallas has also destroyed Memphis in all three meetings this season, winning by 12, 14 and 14 points when the clubs last met on Feb. 5 at FedEx Forum. Both teams shot an impressive 54% FG that night, but the Mavs exploded in the second half and outscored the host Grizzlies 58 to 41. That ended Dallas' five-game losing skid in Memphis, but these clubs are an even 5-5 SU over the past three seasons. The Mavs have thrived when getting 6 points or less as a road underdog under Rick Carlisle, going 71-40 ATS (64%), but the Grizzlies are 55-35 ATS (61%) when facing a winning team over the past two seasons. The only significant injury for either team is Memphis PG Mike Conley, who has been bothered a bad hammy, but is still expected to start on Wednesday.

Which team will capture the No. 7 seed and avoid the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts are finishing the regular season strong at 53% ATS (61-55-5) in NBA Best Bets since March 9. StatFox Zach is a stellar 64% ATS (16-9-1) in NBA Best Bets since March 9, while StatFox Gary has remained hot with a 56% ATS mark (22-17-1) in Best Bets since Feb. 13. StatFox Dave has a profitable 55% ATS (52-42-3) NBA Best Bets record since Dec. 1, StatFox Brian is 53% ATS (30-27-2) in Best Bets since Jan. 25 and StatFox Scott is 53% ATS (8-7-1) in Best Bets since March 24.

Dallas has been an outstanding offensive team all season with 104.8 PPG (8th in NBA) on 47.4% FG (4th in league) and 38.6% threes (2nd in NBA). The club has been able to score so often due to an efficient offense that ranks third in the league in Ast/TO ratio (1.79) with the sixth-most assists (23.6 APG) and fifth-fewest miscues (13.2 TOPG) in the NBA. But this is a subpar defense that allows 102.4 PPG (19th in league) on 46.4% FG (23rd in NBA) and 36.0% threes (16th in league). However, during the past five games, these numbers have dropped considerably to 95.2 PPG on 43.9% FG and 33.1% threes. The Mavericks have five players averaging double-figure scoring, led by PF Dirk Nowitzki (21.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG), who is finishing the season on fire with 23.6 PPG on 55% FG (46% threes), 7.8 RPG and 3.5 APG over his past 10 games. In the three wins over Memphis this season, Nowitzki has scored 23.3 PPG (58% FG) with 6.0 RPG, 3.0 APG and 2.0 SPG. SG Monta Ellis (19.0 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.7 SPG) has also played well in the season series on both ends of the court with 16.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG and 2.7 SPG. He was unstoppable in Saturday's win over Phoenix with 37 points (15-of-23 FG), five assists and four boards, giving him 25.0 PPG (51% FG, 46% threes), 4.5 APG and 4.0 RPG in his past four games. SG Vince Carter (12.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG) has really played outstanding versus the Grizzlies this season, scoring 12.7 PPG on 55% FG with 15 assists and just three turnovers in the three wins combined. The veteran has also picked up his game since being shut out (0-for-8 FG) in a loss to the Lakers on April 4, averaging 11.5 PPG (41% threes) in four games since. PG Jose Calderon (11.5 PPG, 4.7 APG) has 12 assists and just two turnovers in the season series with Memphis and has also done a nice job directing the offense in his past 10 games with 36 assists and just 13 turnovers (2.8 Ast/TO ratio). The last double-digit scorer on this team is SF Shawn Marion (10.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG) who has contributed a solid 13.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 1.3 SPG in the three victories over the Grizzlies.

Memphis is nearly a polar opposite of Dallas with a poor offense of 96.0 PPG (4th-worst in NBA), but a stellar defense with 94.4 PPG allowed (3rd in NBA) on 44.9% FG (9th in league). The Grizzlies don't score a whole lot, but are very efficient with the basketball based on a 46.4% FG clip (7th in NBA) and a mere 12.9 turnovers per game (3rd-fewest in league). They have also been outstanding at home since their last FedEx Forum loss that occurred on Feb. 5 versus Dallas. During this 13-game win streak in Memphis, the team has scored 103.2 PPG on 50% FG (38% threes) and limited visitors to 92.5 PPG on 43% FG (36% threes). The Grizzlies rely mainly on three players to provide their offense, PF Zach Randolph (17.2 PPG, 10.0 RPG), PG Mike Conley (17.1 PPG, 6.1 APG, 1.5 SPG) and C Marc Gasol (14.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.3 BPG). Despite the lopsided series this season, all three players have done the job offensively against Dallas. Randolph has averaged a double-double (20.0 PPG, 10.7 RPG) versus the Mavs while Conley tallied 24 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals in his lone meeting with Dallas. Gasol has played well offensively against the Mavs (17.5 PPG on 55% FG), but has a mere 4.5 RPG with 3.5 TOPG in two meetings. However, all three players have been a big part of the team's success in April, with Gasol averaging 17.9 PPG and 9.3 RPG, Conley chipping in 16.0 PPG, 6.9 APG and 1.4 SPG, and Randolph contributing a near double-double (15.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG) in the seven games this month.

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