NBA Pick on San Antonio Spurs to Draw First Blood in Game 1

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, April 19, 2015 1:33 PM UTC

Sunday, Apr. 19, 2015 1:33 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Sunday.


The defending NBA Champions make for dangerous underdogs Sunday night as they open up their playoffs on the road when those sixth seeded San Antonio Spurs (55-27, 22-19 away) pay a visit to the third seeded Los Angeles Clippers (56-26, 30-11 home) in Game 1 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA at 10:35 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has San Antonio as a tiny underdog for this contest with the current line at +1½ with odds of -105.

Spurs Rather Heavy Series Favorites
What is interesting about this matchup is that while the Spurs are small underdogs on the road for Game 1, San Antonio is still a rather decided favorite for the series at as high as -175 in some spots.

That means that the oddsmakers probably expect the Spurs to win one of the first two games in Los Angeles in order to take away home court advantage from the third seeded Clippers and the Spurs are 27-12 straight up and 23-16 ATS in Game 1s since 2001 including going 5-3, 62.5 percent ATS when opening on the road in this span.

These are two of the hottest teams in the NBA as the Spurs had won 11 straight and 14 of their previous 15 games before losing the season finale while the Clippers ended the year as winning NBA picks in 14 of their last 15 games including the last seven games in a row, with the only loss during this 15-game span being by just four points to the team with the best record in basketball, the Golden State Warriors.

Most Dangerous Six-Seed Ever?
Still, while the season-ending loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans dropped the Spurs all the way to a six-seed, while incidentally allowing all five teams in the Southwest Division to make the playoffs with the Pelicans getting in, a strong case can be made that San Antonio could be the most dangerous six-seed of all time!

Besides the obvious, which is San Antonio being the defending NBA Champion while having the most playoff experience of any team in the league and one of the best coaches ever in Greg Popovich, the Spurs’ sparkling 55-27 record is only one game worse than that of the Clippers and is actually tied for the fourth best record in the West with the Memphis Grizzles and is four game better than the fourth seeded Northwest Champion Portland Trail Blazers.

In fact the Spurs would have been Southwest Division champions and the second seed if they would have won in New Orleans!

And perhaps most importantly, while the Spurs were very good as usual offensively this season ranking seventh in the NBA in scoring at 103.2 points per game, third in filed goal percentage at 46.8 percent and sixth in three-point shooting at 36.7 percent, the difference in this series may be the underrated San Antonio defense that quietly finished third in the league in points against during the regular season at just 97.0 per game.

Lax Defense Usually Spells Playoff Doom
The Clippers are certainly an exciting team offensively as they finished second in the league in scoring with 106.7 points per game, second in field goal percentage at 47.3 percent and third in three-point shooting at 37.6 percent, but all that offense does not usually help in the playoffs when you do not play defense.

And that lax defense is a key reason why the Clippers are just 9-21 ATS their last 30 playoff games! Sure they were a bit better defensively during their furious late charge to end the season, but they still lag behind the Spurs defensively overall this season ranking 16th in points against at 100.1 per game, 11th in field goal percentage allowed and 15th in three-point defense, so this year may be a carbon copy of recent seasons where Los Angeles underachieved in the post-season.

San Antonio Success in Los Angeles
Finally, this would not be the first time that the Spurs seized home court advantage by winning Game 1 on the road as mentioned, and they have already had proven success at this venue going 13-6 ATS in the last 19 meetings with the Clippers at the Staples Center.

That success in Los Angeles combined with an edge in playoff experience and the better defense should all add up to make San Antonio victorious in Game 1 on the road vs. the Clippers Sunday.

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NBA Pick: Spurs +1½ (-105)

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