NBA Picks: Spurs Have the Edge as Motivation to Clinch Top Seed is Key Factor Against Pelicans

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, April 16, 2015 4:22 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 16, 2015 4:22 PM UTC

Our expert handicapper explores tonight's matchup between Spurs & Pelicans and shares his NBA pick for a game that has playoff seeding implications for both teams. 

San Antonio Spurs (-5) vs. New Orleans Pelicans 8:05 ET
At 8:05 ET, the San Antonio Spurs visit the New Orleans Pelicans in a game that will have playoff seeding implications for both teams.  Note the 8:05 ET time start for 10 NBA games, including any game in which either team has playoff motivation.  It is a clever move by the NBA in an effort to prevent teams from “tanking and scoreboard watching.”  ESPN, assumedly with the blessing of the NBA, has chosen 2 games to televise.  The have moved the Charlotte/Toronto game to 7:05 ET and the Indiana/Memphis game to 9:30 ET.  Note the potential advantage for Indiana in that move, as they can qualify for the 8th spot in the East, should New Jersey lose their 8:05 ET tip to Orlando.  In this game, however, each team will be fighting till the final buzzer.

New Orleans, at 44-37 SU, is currently tied with OKC for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  Either a win vs. San Antonio tonight OR a loss by the Thunder (unlikely, as they are a 13 point favorite vs. Minnesota) will garner this New Orleans’ franchise a rare playoff spot. This young, emerging Pelicans’ team, led by interior force, Anthony Davis, could well claim this victory.  For, the Pelicans are 2-1 SU in the season series, including 3-0 ATS with all games decided by 7 or less points.  The Pelicans are playing their best ball of the season, winning 7 of their most recent 10 games, including 4 consecutive games at home (though, 3 of them were against non-contenders, Phoenix, Minnesota and Sacramento).  Losses have come on the road against quality teams, Portland by 9, Memphis by 36 and Houston by 7. Question is the way in which this young emerging team handles the pressure of a game which figures to have playoff atmosphere.

The Spurs started the 2nd half of the season at 0-4 SU ATS.  But, since a 16 point loss at Portland on February 25th, the defending champs have gone 21-3 SU, 19-5 ATS.  That includes an 11-0 SU, 10-1 ATS recent run in which they have outscored the opposition by a margin of 108-90.  Ten of those most recent 11 wins have been by 12 or more points.  Prior to that run, the Spurs were mired in 6th place in the West. Tonight, they can claim the No. 2 seed in the West (and the right to face the struggling Mavericks) or fall as low as the 6th seed, should they lose this game while Houston and Memphis (both home favorites) are winning their contests. Make no mistake that this veteran championship team, who is playing as well as anyone in the league, will be well focused for this game.

This is one of those rare final games of the season where both teams appear to have ample motivation.  We’ll take the Spurs with our NBA picks as the defending champs hold a massive experience edge and are playing with incredible momentum.   

NBA Pick: Take San Antonio Spurs

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