Phoenix has been knocked out of the NBA playoff race, but the betting lines are still set for their tilt with the hot-shooting Spurs Sunday night. Our handicapper looks for value in this NBA pick.
The Suns are a big 15 point underdog in NBA odds at time of writing, and for good reason, as San Antonio has been fantastic at home this year winning at a 32-8 clip. The O/U is currently listed as 202.5, after opening at 203.5.
The Spurs are coming off of a big home-and-home series with the Houston Rockets, winning both games, the last game being a thriller in Houston that ended 104-103 in favor of the Spurs. That game also featured the Spurs employing the ‘hack-a-Josh Smith’ strategy, sending the near 50% free throw shooter to the line for 16 free throws in the 4th quarter of the game alone.
Not the most exciting basketball to watch, but it worked in the Spurs favor.
Phoenix has been listless not only since being knocked out of the playoffs, but since losing Brandon Knight to injury in early April. The offensive effort from the team since then has been disjointed. They put forth a pitiful effort in New Orleans on Friday, shooting 35.3% from the field while scoring 75 points. Two games ago in Atlanta they shot a putrid 31.3% in a 69 point effort. Those two teams have something in common with the Spurs, they are still jockeying for playoff position – and putting forth defensive effort.
When preparing my NBA picks, I expect the same type of effort from the Spurs on Sunday night as they are trying to lock up the #2 seed in the Western Conference, and are currently a half game back of the Memphis Grizzlies at 54-26.
The current scoring trends with Phoenix point to them scoring under 90 points in San Antonio, but the Spurs have been shooting the lights out lately with a FG% over 50% in their last five games. What I’ve noticed; however, is the minutes played by the Spurs starters in games they’ve won by more than 10 points in the last month. A great example is the minutes played against a blowout of the Denver Nuggets on April 3rd (see table to the right).
Lastly we have some betting trends that point towards the Under in this game.
Most notably, all three prior matchups this season between San Antonio and Phoenix played well under 200 points. Playing pace is largely dictated by coaching styles and that hasn’t changed within the year. Additionally for Phoenix, the Under has cashed in on an amazing 16 of the last 19 games! San Antonio has been shooting well but the bar has been set high, with the Under winning 6 of the last 9 games.
Gregg Popovich is notorious for resting starters for entire games, but this roster is giving him the luxury of playing the “Fab Four” for 25 minutes or less.
If San Antonio gets up big on Phoenix, I’d expect more of the same. We’ll have the 2nd string of the Spurs vs. the cold shooting of Phoenix for a majority of the game. Not exactly the recipe for a barn burner.
I believe this Total is inflated based on the Spurs hot shooting over the last five games, but many factors point to that trend regressing to the mean Sunday night versus Phoenix.
The NBA Pick: Take Under 200.5 points at The Greek