San Antonio will be playing on zero days of rest Friday night against the Golden State Warriors, who haven’t played a game in a week. Do the Dubs have what it takes to be our NBA pick?
Jason’s record as of Feb. 19: 35-31-4 ATS, 2-4 Totals
If only they had told us Austin Rivers wasn’t playing. We were fading the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night in their game against the San Antonio Spurs, but as maybe 47 percent of our NBA picks will do, this one fizzled. Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick combined for 41 points in Rivers’ absence (sore left ankle) as the Clippers beat the Spurs 119-115, cashing in as 2.5-point home dogs.
Next up for the Spurs: Friday night’s game (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) against the best team in the league, the Golden State Warriors. The early NBA odds have Golden State laying seven points against the defending champions. That’s a lot of points. Is San Antonio resilient enough, and talented enough, to shake off Thursday’s result and put these youngsters in their place?
Relax, Big Guy
We all know about the resilient part. The Spurs (34-20 SU, 23-29-2 ATS) are the most unflappable team in the NBA, led by Mr. Equanimity himself, Tim Duncan (21.8 PER). They’re not likely to be too flustered over Thursday’s loss. They’re also not likely to commit 16 turnovers again, and Kawhi Leonard (19.8 PER) will almost certainly shoot better than 1-for-11.
The only concern from a betting perspective is the short turnaround from L.A. to Oakland. But even here, the Spurs shouldn’t be affected too badly, coming off that extended All-Star break. Let’s also keep in mind how well San Antonio has done in the past during these “Rodeo Trip” games: 38-18 SU and 30-24-2 ATS over the past six-plus seasons. Resilience. Now, about that talent part…
The System Is Down
It’s not that the Spurs aren’t talented. Duncan and Leonard are still excellent. Tony Parker (14.8 PER) is back in fine form – he had 21 points and 13 assists against the Clippers. Manu Ginobili (16.6 PER) has seen better days, but he remains one of San Antonio’s best offensive weapons (plus-1.8 OBPM). There’s plenty of depth around these core players, and they’re all coached by Gregg Popovich.
The problem is that the Warriors (42-9 SU, 31-19-1 ATS) are much more talented than the Spurs. Not only that, they’re much more talented than the betting market can wrap its head around. So let’s go straight to the Simple Rating System at Basketball Reference. San Antonio came out of the All-Star break with a plus-3.64 SRS. Golden State: plus-10.12. Add today’s standard of 2.5 points for home court, and you get an estimated fake spread of Warriors –9 for Friday’s matchup. Smell the value.
Shooting at the Walls of Heartache, Bang Bang
Now, we wouldn’t be doing a very good job if we left it at that. These numbers are for the full season thus far. They don’t account for injuries or back-to-back games or the clash of styles between the two teams in question – all the situational stuff that we need to think about when we make our basketball picks. Having said that, Golden State doesn’t have any injuries of note to deal with.
Let’s talk some basketball, then. The Warriors have lost each of their last seven games against the Spurs at 6-1 ATS. Only one of those games was this season; back in November, the Spurs went into Oakland and won 113-100, this time as 8.5-point road dogs. Both teams were at close to full strength. So we should ride the Spurs again on Friday, right?
Well, Stephen Curry (27.4 PER) was 0-for-7 from downtown in that game. That’s also not likely to happen again this time around. But we’re not going to overthink this one – we’re double-dipping on San Antonio for our NBA picks, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Spurs