The San Antonio Spurs lead the Western Conference, as they quest for a return to the NBA Finals. The LA Lakers have officially given up on this season, after the announcement that Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are both out for the year.
The playoff-bound Spurs host the sorry-ass Lakers Friday night (8:30 pm ET, NBATV).
In one of the biggest pointspreads we've dealt with this NBA season San Antonio was an early 17-point favorite over LA, with a total of 224.
This game looks like such a mismatch no book we know of was offering a moneyline.
San Antonio has won eight games in a row to take over the top spot in the Western Conference standings. Most recently the Spurs defeated Portland Wednesday night 103-90.
So at 48-16 the Spurs lead the West by a half-game over the Thunder.
Down at the other end of the totem pole the Lakers, without Bryant and Nash, are struggling through what will be their worst season since before the arrival of Magic.
LA recently loss three games in a row, giving up 132 points to New Orleans, 142 to the Clippers and 134 to Denver. The Lakers then put on one of their most spirited performances of the season Monday night, upsetting the Thunder at Staples Center 114-110. But they fell right back to Earth Thursday night, losing the back half of the home-and-home at OKC 131-102.
At 22-43 the Lakers are just playing out the string under Coach D'Antoni, who seems likely to be relieved of his duties before too long.
Lakers-Spurs Recent History
San Antonio has beaten LA five times in a row; once this season, back in November, and in a four-game sweep of a first-round playoff series last April. Kobe didn't play in any of those games.
In that Spurs victory back in the first week of this season, which San Antonio C Tim Duncan also missed, the Lakers led early by 15 points, but by just one at the half. The game was tight throughout the second half, but the Spurs ended on a 13-5 run for the 91-85 win.
However, LA hung on for the cover as seven-point home dogs.
San Antonio shot just 40 percent from the field that night, the Lakers just 37 percent. That's why the game never approached its total of 208.
Take a look at the top NBA Futures Betting Lines
Lakers-Spurs By the Numbers
For the season LA is shooting 45 percent from the field, 38 percent from 3-point range and 75 percent from the free-throw line. Defensively the Lakers are allowing opponents to shoot 46 percent from the floor, and they're getting out-rebounded by an average of 7.5 boards per game, which is easily the worst rebounding margin in the league.
San Antonio is shooting 49 percent from the floor this season (second-best), a league-best 40 percent from long range and 79 percent from the line. The Spurs are also holding foes to just under 45 percent shooting, and out-rebounding opponents by about a board per game.
Lakers-Spurs Betting Trends
LA has leaned toward the OVERS this season by a 37-27 margin, as Lakers games have averaged a league-high 210 points.
San Antonio has also titled toward the OVERS this season, by a 38-25 margin, as Spurs games have averaged 202 points.
Despite the dismal season LA is actually 34-29 ATS, and 19-14 ATS on the road. The Lakers are also 9-9 ATS as double-digit dogs.
San Antonio is 32-32 ATS this season, but only 13-19 ATS at home, and 6-10 as double-digit chalk.
Not only are the Lakers without Kobe and Nash, but Nick Young (17 ppg) and C Jordan Hill (eight ppg, seven rpg) have both missed recent action with a sore knees, and are likely out for Friday night.
Free NBA Pick
This is a tough one. There's not much doubt as to who is going to win this game; it's just a matter of by how much. If things go as expected the Spurs should own a large lead in the fourth quarter, so the cover might come down to garbage time. And that's always a dangerous situation.
Do the Lakers have any heart? What kind of effort will they put forth? Are they going to play any defense? Or are they just trying to ensure D'Antoni's upcoming firing?
Meanwhile, San Antonio is very likely to win, but this also might be a good spot for Coach Pop to give his vets some rest.
It appears linesmakers have been overestimating the Spurs at home a bit this season, and underestimating LA on the road. That's why, to us, tonight's spread seems a bit inflated.
So despite some qualms we'll take the Lakers, at the +17 points offered at Bookmaker, for our free NBA pick for Friday.