Grizzlies v Spurs: Gasol to stand tall in Grizzlies' win
Two of the top three defences will duke it out on Friday Night but expect leading-MVP candidate Marc Gasol to help Memphis grind out a win
When you're in the shadow of an older, more decorated brother, it can be hard to stand out on your own. You take your time, find your own groove to carve out your own niche and Marc Gasol has waited long enough to prove he's just as good, if not better, than his brother Pau.
The Spaniard has been sensational for the NBA-leading 15-2 Memphis Grizzlies on both ends of the court and combined with other stars like Zach Randolph, it's no surprise that this team looks like an early contender. They take on a San Antonio Spurs team that have been there, done it and bought the t-shirt so many times that they could fill a wardrobe and they are getting back to how they play basketball. However, the best defensive team in the NBA will overpower the third-best, so back the Grizzlies to win a close one at 87/100.
The earlier slate of games is headlined by two big offensive teams in the East as the Cleveland Cavaliers head north to take on the Toronto Raptors. Cleveland are still trying to find their style, with two All-Stars and a once-in-a-generation player in the mix but it looks like the pieces are starting to fit.
The Raptors have got off to a great start, in part because of the excellent play from Kyle Lowry, but there is a worry that they may stagnate a little in the absence of DeMar DeRozan. He was superb for them last year and with him out, I can see Cleveland taking this one comfortably so go for them to win with a -4 handicap at 9/10.
The final game is an interesting one as the rising Sacramento Kings host the fading Indiana Pacers. After playing in the Easter Conference Finals last year, the Pacers have gone backwards quickly although that's largely due to the fact they'd lost Paul George before the season even started. They are still a good defensive team but they can't compete on offence, sitting a measly 25th in points scored.
The Kings have been a real surprise package, with a good starting five that is headlined by the much-maligned but ever-improving DeMarcus Cousins. They should stroll this one in the form they are in, have them to win both halves at 5/4. The Pacers are nowhere near the level they've shown in the past few years.