Spurs are much better than the Knicks this season, but then why does Tuesday's matchup at Madison Square Garden smell like a trap to me? The Spurs are 13.5-point favs on NBA odds with a total of 195.5.
Spurs Back On Road
Don't look now, but the Spurs (41-24) are climbing in the Western Conference, reaching the fifth spot following Sunday's 123-97 home blowout of Minnesota. It's not impossible that the defending champions could reach as high as second, although they are currently 4.5 games behind Memphis, which holds down that spot and the Southwest Division lead.
Normally it's not a big deal to stomp the Timberwolves as San Antonio did on Sunday, but it was an impressive effort considering the Spurs had every reason to be a bit flat off Thursday's 128-125 overtime home loss to Cleveland, the NBA's game of the year thus far. Good teams can put a loss in the rearview mirror and not dwell on it, and that's what the Spurs did against Minnesota. The team nearly suffered a disaster in that game, however, as sixth man Manu Ginobili suffered what looked at the time like a major ankle injury after coming down on the foot of the Wolves' Gorgui Dieng. Ginobili has been diagnosed with a sprain and will miss at least a week, but that's pretty good news if you saw the play. The Spurs also have ruled out reserve center Aron Baynes for Tuesday's game with a rib injury. With a short-handed roster, the Spurs called up rookie Ryan Anderson from the D-League.
Why might this be a trap game? The Spurs win wrapped up a six-game homestand in which the only loss was to the Cavaliers. Also, San Antonio plays again Wednesday night in Milwaukee. So who knows which players might get either Tuesday or Wednesday off. You know Coach Gregg Popovich is likely going to do something.
San Antonio is 29-34-2 against the NBA betting spread this season and 31-34 'over/under.'
Season Can't End Soon Enough for Knicks
It behooves the Knicks (13-53) to keep on losing so they can have a better chance of winning the draft lottery, although the team with the NBA's worst record rarely does. New York closed a five-game road trip at 1-4 following a 102-89 loss in Phoenix on Sunday in the Knicks' first game since being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It also meant New York finished its 15-game Western Conference road schedule for the season at 1-14, with the only win last Thursday at the equally sad Lakers.
One of the team's best remaining players, guard Tim Hardaway Jr., left early in the first quarter against Phoenix with a sprained right wrist and he's unlikely to play Tuesday. Rookie Cleanthony Early also left the game, his injury a sprained left ankle. Thus someone like Shane Larkin could see more playing time Tuesday. Point guard Jose Calderon remains out with an Achilles' injury. He's not likely to play again this season.
New York has a 1.5-game lead entering Monday over Minnesota for the NBA's worst record. Coincidentally, those two play in the Toilet Bowl on Thursday at the Garden. It's a must-lose game! Phil Jackson's one-year anniversary since joining the Knicks is Wednesday. The Knicks are 26-38-2 against the spread this season and 29-36-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Hard to take much from the Spurs' 109-95 home win over the Knicks on Dec. 10 in which San Antonio was a 10-point favorite on NBA odds. Out for the Knicks were Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, while the Spurs sat Tim Duncan, Ginobili, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs blew that game open by outscoring the Knicks 38-21 in the third quarter. Marco Belinelli led San Antonio with 22 points off the bench, while Hardaway led New York with 23 points. New York has lost two straight at the Garden in this series.
NBA Free Picks: As for this NBA pick take the points and go 'under' the total. San Antonio is 3-7 ATS in its past 10 on the road. The 'under' is 5-2 in the Knicks past seven games. The 'under' is 12-5 in the Spurs' past 17 on the road.