Spurs dynasty still alive?
Even though their regional foes are closing in on them, the Spurs’ dynasty seems to still be alive and as powerful as ever. That’s hard to believe considering the fact that for the last five seasons almost everyone has pronounced them dead at one point or another in the regular or postseason. Nonetheless, here they are again: the #1 seed in the Western Conference, and up 2-0 on a team that some (including myself) were picking to beat them.
Tonight, even in Portland, they find themselves as -1 ½ road favorites, with an NBA odds total of 209. San Antonio should want to close this series as fast as possible. After going seven games in round one, San Antonio is going to need some time off in between the quarter and semi finals to continue this stellar play.
The most surprising part to me has not been the fact that they have dropped 116 and 114 points on the Blazers respectfully in the last two games, but that the San Antonio defense has been incredible over their last two games. This is not something I saw coming, and even though we have cashed the 'over' in two straight games this series, it could be time for a change. If the Spurs’ defense continues to hold the Blazers under 100 points, not only is this going to be a quick series, but the 'under' could now hold a ton of value, because I don’t see the Spurs dropping 115 points on the road.
The two biggest culprits of the defensive uptick have been Tim Duncan’s game 2 performance on LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as Kawhi Leonard this entire postseason. He is slowly but surely making a case to become the fourth member of the "Big Three" in San Antonio. His defense has been invaluable for the Spurs in this series, and he is becoming the one of the first three options on offense when he is on the floor.
The Sharp Pick
At 209, this total has risen four points since game 1 and two points from game 2 in San Antonio. Now in Portland, the Blazers’ defense should improve dramatically from these two road games. During the regular season, the Blazers were ranked twenty-second in the NBA in points allowed on the road, and this postseason, they are now giving up over 112 points per game on the road.
At home during the regular season, the Blazers’ defense improved by almost three full points, and the team shot a little over a percentage point less against them. Assuming we have at least this very small advantage on our side, I think the 'under' is again showing value as our NBA pick. Along with the Spurs’ sudden mighty defense, and the home court advantage for the Blazers, this total of 209 seems like it’s very high.
I’d like to think that now in Portland, the Blazers will keep this game closer than what the last two have been. A close game should lead to a lower score, because both times in these blowouts, we have seen bench players in the game late in the fourth quarter. That should not be the case in Portland with the Blazers’ backs against the wall.
My Free NBA Pick: Bet 'under' 209