Break out the topical analgesic – the San Antonio Spurs might not have Tim Duncan ready to go when they face the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. How will the NBA betting lines respond?
Getting old has its good points and its bad points. Getting old on the basketball court? Mostly bad. Check out Friday night’s big game (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers, and you’ll see what we mean. On paper, this looks like a great matchup – from 2004. If only those shark cartilage pills actually worked.
We’re talking about Steve Nash, of course. But at least he’s available for Friday’s contest. Tim Duncan is listed as doubtful after suffering a chest contusion in Wednesday’s season-opener, a 101-94 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies (+6 away). Duncan took an elbow early in the second half and did not return to the game. That’s why, as we go to press, there are no NBA lines for this matchup. Things may have changed by the time you read this.
For that matter, who knows how many minutes Nash will play on Friday. This is L.A.’s third game in four days; Nash was held out of Wednesday’s 125-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors (–12 at home), giving the former two-time MVP a chance to rest his creaky 39-year-old body during the second of back-to-back games for the Lakers.
He needs it more than most people. Nash only played 21 minutes in the season-opener against the Los Angeles Clippers, telling reporters that something “strange” happened to him physically during that game. He was already listed as day-to-day with neck and ankle issues, so expect to see plenty of Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake on Friday.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Lakers. I mean, it’s obviously bad that Nash isn’t healthy, but that’s a given at this point. The upside is that Farmar looks like a better point guard than he did in his first stint with the Lakers. He led L.A.’s second unit into the fray against the Clippers and came out with a shocking 116-103 victory as a 9.5-point dog. Farmar had 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting with six assists, as the Lakers bench outscored the Clippers starters 41-24 in the fourth quarter.
Sadly for the Lakers, their bench couldn’t catch lightning in a bottle the next night in Oakland. But the second unit once again outplayed the starters; Farmar (12 points) was one of four back-ups to score in double digits, alongside Game 1 hero Xavier Henry (14), Wesley Johnson (11), and Chris Kaman (11). There’s some hidden basketball betting value in that Lakers bench.
Come On Spurs
Ah, but the same can be said for the Spurs. Their second unit also kicked it into a higher gear when Duncan left Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies. The San Antonio bench scored 21 of the team’s 30 points in the third quarter; new back-up pivot Patty Mills hit all three of his trey attempts, while Boris Diaw filled in for Duncan and led all Spurs players on the night at plus-12. Diaw was plus-12 again at the buffet table after the game. Bam~!
The critical difference between these two teams is in the starting five. Even if Duncan is unable to play, the Spurs still have a viable point guard in Tony Parker, plus three rising stars in Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter. The Lakers still have Pau Gasol to pair with Nash, then it’s Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Shawne Williams, who was playing in China last year. This lineup isn’t going to win many basketball games.
San Antonio is almost always a good NBA pick, so if I had to make a blind bet in this situation, it would be the Spurs. But it looks like the NBA odds opened San Antonio at a 9-point chalk on the Strip – I would grab that with Duncan still a possibility to play.
NBA Pick: Take the Spurs –9