Pick Spurs –1.5 vs. Clippers

Jason Lake

Monday, December 16, 2013 1:03 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 1:03 PM GMT

Just when you thought the San Antonio Spurs were out of the basketball betting mix, they pull you back in. But the Clippers are also getting paid handsomely as these two teams prepare to meet Monday night.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 13 inclusive:

23-23 ATS

5-5 Totals

Ah, those crazy San Antonio Spurs. It’s been two weeks since I wrote them off as no longer worth my time against the NBA betting lines, and while that assessment looked prescient at first, the Spurs have won their last four games in a row at 3-1 ATS. That includes Saturday night’s game against the Utah Jazz, where back-up big man Aron Baynes actually did play, and played well as San Antonio (–7 away) prevailed 100-84.

Hey, I didn’t say the Spurs (19-4 SU, 12-11 ATS) were an awful team. I’m just saying I expect them to continue to hover around .500 against the basketball spreads, as they’ve done for the past 100 games or so. They’ll be in tough this Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers (16-9 SU, 14-11 ATS), who have also covered three of their last four games, and are looking forward to seeing Staples Center for the first time in over two weeks. Our early NBA lines have the Clippers getting 1.5 points.

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The Baynes of Our Existence

Baynes (8.7 PER) is hardly the most important person in the Spurs lineup, but he’s a perfect example of why you should always pay close attention to the injury reports as tip-off approaches, and hold off on your NBA bets unless there’s a good reason to make your play early. Baynes and center Tiago Splitter (18.9 PER) were both listed as day-to-day going into Saturday’s matchup; Splitter sat out another one, but Baynes returned and played 17 quality minutes off the bench, scoring nine points with eight rebounds and two assists.

The latest word on Splitter at press time is that he’s “hoping” to play Monday against the Clippers. San Antonio’s four-game winning streak coincides with Splitter’s absence, but correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation. Splitter is an important player for the Spurs, putting up 14.6 points and 11.4 rebounds (including 4.0 offensive boards) every 36 minutes. His plus-4.5 Simple Rating at 82games is even better than teammate Tim Duncan’s plus-4.3.

Left Eye Barnes

Aside from general wear and tear, San Antonio is completely healthy once Splitter returns. The same can’t be said for the Clippers, who remain rather thin on the wings without J.J. Redick (hand/elbow), Matt Barnes (eye), and Reggie Bullock (ankle). You can add Willie Green to that list, too. Green (3.7 PER) bruised his left pinky finger in Saturday’s 113-97 victory over the Washington Wizards and didn’t return to the game. Results on his X-rays were pending at press time.

Los Angeles cashed in anyway as a 4.5-point chalk at the end of a seven-game road swing through the Eastern Conference. SG Jamal Crawford (16.2 PER) got the start against Washington and scored 17 points, but without the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year, the Clippers bench was a liability. SF Steven Jackson was the only “plus” player at plus-one, and that was in eight dubious minutes with one point, three rebounds and a pair of turnovers.

I’m not sold on the Spurs in the long term, but I’m not too proud to pick them in this situation. Check out those home/away splits: San Antonio is 8-4 ATS on the road this year, while Los Angeles is 5-5 ATS at Staples Center. The Spurs are also 2-1 SU and ATS in their three road games against L.A. since Chris Paul’s arrival. Both teams should be fresh after taking Saturday off, so San Antonio’s old legs should have the advantage, for one more day at least.

NBA Pick: Take the Spurs –1.5 at Sports Interaction

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