The San Antonio Spurs have lost four of five. They know what their problems are but can they solve them? That’s the main question as they’re a dog on the NBA betting lines in Phoenix on Saturday.
The San Antonio Spurs Can Win Because…
Their on-court leader knows what he has to do to turn this team around. It’s not about numbers for the Spurs, because the recent numbers for them have been bad. Tony Parker has not been ducking questions or avoiding responsibility for San Antonio’s losing ways over the past week or so. He is frustrated, but he also believes he can get the job done for the defending champions. Listen to him – he is not talking like a loser:
“I don’t think we’ve suddenly become bad,” Parker said to the San-Antonio Express-News. “I’ve been through a whole lot of challenges in my life with the Spurs. We just have to keep pushing and pounding that rock.” Parker later said following a loss to Portland on Wednesday night, “I had great looks tonight, shots that I always make. That’s why it’s like… it looks good. It feels good when I shot it. But I miss my first five or six shots, and then you know the defense, waits until I make that shot. Once I make that shot, everything will open up.”
There are no guarantees, but if Parker just makes a few jumpers, San Antonio not only can be good – it will be good. The other thing to point out about this game is that while Phoenix did beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night, it also lost to Boston at home earlier this week. Phoenix is wildly unpredictable, and wildly unpredictable teams will not inspire betting confidence on a regular nightly basis.
The other thing is that while the Spurs have lost four of five, they did get a win last night in Sacramento as a 9-point favorite on NBA Odds. That’s definitely going to get the monkey off their back. Kawhi Leonard led the way with a good night and when he’s playing well, the Spurs typically win. Although they’re in a back-to-back situation, this could be one time where it helps them as they will be feeling good about themselves after last night’s win.
The Phoenix Suns Can Win Because…
The doubts they created by losing at home to Boston were washed away on Thursday night with a win over Oklahoma City. Eric Bledsoe, who will now get more minutes as a result of Goran Dragic’s departure for the Miami Heat, was outstanding, hitting 11 of 16 shots and scoring 28 points while also grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking four shots. If that’s the kind of play the Suns get from Bledsoe, Tony Parker will not be able to go off and play at the level San Antonio needs. The Suns actually play two point guards, with Bledsoe being joined by Brandon Knight, who came over from Milwaukee in a separate trade deadline deal. Their quickness is going to give the Spurs problems. Phoenix hit 49.5 percent of its shots against Oklahoma City, and that’s a product of its two point guards being able to break down the defense.
The other thing to realize is that while Tony Parker will one day be in the Basketball Hall of Fame, he’s simply injured and not 100 percent – not close. Parker acknowledged Wednesday night that he hasn’t been the same player, physically, since suffering an injury. He didn’t shy away from saying that. With a hurt Parker, this team just can’t do what it wants. Tim Duncan might have been the most important Spur 10 years ago, but Parker has been the key to the Spurs the past three seasons. If he’s not right, the Spurs are not going to get better, period.
The Spurs put a lot of concerns to rest on Friday night. Leonard played well, Parker was productive and the team got a win. Although they won’t have the rest they need, this is a spot where they should be able to edge out a disjointed, newly-formed Suns team. Phoenix is closer to the team that lost to Boston than the one that beat Oklahoma City. Take the Spurs with your NBA picks.
Free NBA Pick: Spurs +1 at The Greek