The Daily Sweat: In Klay Thompson's second game back, Warriors get big road test vs. Grizzlies

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Klay Thompson knocked some of the rust off, scoring 17 points in Sunday’s win over Cleveland in his first NBA game since the 2019 NBA Finals. But now he and the Warriors are headed out on the road for a major test.

The Warriors are 2.5-point favorites at BetMGM for a road showdown against Ja Morant and the Grizzlies, a team that is riding a nine-game winning streak and continues to creep up toward the top of the Western Conference standings.

The Grizzlies are currently 28-14, just 3.5 games back of the Warriors, who are 30-9 and tied with the Suns for the No. 1 seed in the West. With Morant leading the way, the Grizzlies are soaring.

Their last loss came before Christmas. Coincidentally, it came on the road against the Warriors in a game that saw Steph Curry explode for 46 points, his second-highest point total of the season.

While Thompson is back in the lineup for his second game of the year, the Warriors will play Tuesday night’s game without defensive stalwart Draymond Green. Green injured his left calf during pregame warmups on Sunday and did not make the trip to Memphis, the team said. It is not expected to be a long-term injury, but Green is a key piece of the Warriors' puzzle on both offense and defense.

The Grizzlies are dealing with a notable injury, too. Dillon Brooks, the team’s second-leading scorer (18.4 point per game), injured his ankle against the Clippers on Saturday and is expected to be out several weeks. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 127-119 on Sunday without Brooks, who is one of the team’s top defenders.

During their nine-game winning streak, the Grizzlies are 8-1 against the spread, including winning outright four times as underdogs. Memphis is 13-6 ATS as an underdog this season, but has been a better ATS team on the road — 15-5 on the road, 12-10 at home. The Warriors, meanwhile, are 9-8-1 ATS on the road overall and 5-5-1 ATS as a road favorite.

Notably, the under is 9-2 when the Warriors have been road favorites this season. The total for Tuesday night’s game is currently listed at 220.5 at BetMGM.

Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson warms before an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
The Warriors' Klay Thompson warms before a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in San Francisco on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

Any other notable NBA matchups?

The Toronto Raptors, another NBA team with a nice winning streak, have a big test of their own on Tuesday night. The Raptors, winners of six straight, host the Phoenix Suns, who are tied with the Warriors for the NBA’s best record.

The Raptors are 3.5-point underdogs against the Suns at BetMGM with the total listed at 224.5. The Raptors have covered the spread in six of their last seven outings and have seen 11 of their last 13 games go over the total.

This game marks just the sixth time all year the Raptors are home underdogs. The other matchups have not gone well. They are 0-5 in those games and just 1-4 against the spread. On the other side, the Suns are 8-5 ATS as a road favorite this season.

The Suns lost 123-100 at home in their most recent outing against a shorthanded Miami Heat team, shooting just 38% from the field in the process.

The other notable game on the card is the nightcap between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers, who are 2.5-point home underdogs.

Loaded college basketball slate

In other hoops action, the college slate is very promising — especially in the Big 12.

Two of the night’s top matchups are No. 1 Baylor hosting No. 19 Texas Tech and No. 9 Kansas hosting No. 15 Iowa State. Both of the home teams — Baylor and Kansas — are favored by 12.5 points at BetMGM. Additionally, No. 21 Texas hosts Oklahoma and is favored by 6.5 points. There’s also Oklahoma State traveling to West Virginia. The Mountaineers are -2.5 in that one.

Elsewhere, surging Miami (which is somehow still unranked despite winning nine straight, including an upset of Duke) is a 6.5-point underdog on the road against Florida State. There’s also a really fun SEC matchup between No. 4 Auburn and No. 24 Alabama. Alabama is favored by 2.5 points.

Other notable games: No. 23 Providence is a 4.5-point road dog against Creighton and No. 18 Kentucky is favored by 8.5 at Vanderbilt.

National championship recap

Georgia got its revenge against Alabama. After losing to the Tide in the SEC title game, the Bulldogs won their first national title since 1980 on Monday night with a 33-18 triumph in Indianapolis.

Georgia closed as a 2.5-point favorite and ended up covering the spread comfortably with a fourth-quarter surge. That was a good outcome for the sportsbook as a majority of the bets came in on Alabama as an underdog.

About an hour before kickoff on Monday, BetMGM said 57% of the bets and 45% of the money it received came in on Alabama, including plenty of sharp money. One of the biggest bets was a $315,000 wager on Alabama at +2.5 (-105). That bet lost.

There was also a $110,000 bet on the over 52.5. In a game with a bevy of red zone stops, multiple failed two-point conversions and a blocked field goal, that was a pretty bad beat.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart celebrates after the College Football Playoff championship football game against Alabama Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Indianapolis. Georgia won 33-18. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart celebrates after the College Football Playoff championship against Alabama on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. Georgia won 33-18. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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