Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 30 inclusive:
Okay, it was one thing when the Indiana Pacers were getting hammered by the NBA lines. But now the Pacers are losing to other basketball teams. Eastern Conference basketball teams. Sunday’s 90-76 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers (+5.5 at home) might be Indiana’s lowest point of the season thus far. And things will probably get lower still on Monday night when the Pacers host the San Antonio Spurs, winners of 17 straight games at 13-4 ATS. San Antonio is available at anywhere between –2.5 and –4 on the NBA odds board as we go to press.
It’s going to be very difficult not to bet on San Antonio (57-16 SU, 40-33 ATS) in this one. We’ve been paying very close attention to the Spurs lately, and there isn’t much not to like. They kept their winning streak going Saturday night with a 96-80 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans (+14 away); in a typical performance, five different Spurs scored in double figures, and 10 players got in at least 17 minutes of action.
Tiago Splitter (17.4 PER) was not one of those players. He took Saturday night off, presumably to get some rest after playing in Friday’s 133-102 drubbing of the Denver Nuggets (+7.5 at home). Danny Green (13.6 PER) also missed the Nuggets game with a sore foot and remains listed as day-to-day, and Matt Bonner (11.1 PER) continues to sit out with a strained calf. But this is still about as healthy as the Spurs have been all season, and with so much quality talent available off the bench, the starters haven’t had to deal with the same level of late-season fatigue as other teams.
Watson, Come Here
We’re running out of ways to tell you that the Pacers don’t have much of a bench. It was more of the same in Cleveland; Evan Turner (9.5 PER and falling) was a minus-8 in 10 minutes of work, while Ian Mahinmi (9.7 PER) was a team-worst minus-17 in his 16 minutes. Pacers fans would be much happier to see C.J. Watson (12.5 PER) and Andrew Bynum (15.3 PER) getting those minutes, but Watson is probably going to miss another week with his bad hammy, and Bynum is out indefinitely with a swollen knee.
The Pacers thought they had improved their bench during the offseason with the arrival of Luis Scola (12.6 PER), who came over from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a future first-round pick. Whoops. While Green (15.8 PER) and Plumlee (14.5 PER) have helped to make Phoenix a surprise bubble playoff team in the West, Scola has seen his play drop off sharply since joining Indiana. The once-gifted scorer has posted minus-0.6 Offensive Win Shares for the Pacers this year. Phwhoa.
If you want some more damning evidence, check out the Simple Ratings at 82games, where all of Indiana’s starting five players are in positive territory, and all the reserve players are negative. Danny Granger (10.4 PER) was a plus-1.0, but now he’s a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. Watson is the top reserve at minus-1.0. Scola’s a minus-3.3, Mahinmi is minus-6.1, and Turner is the worst of the regular crew at minus-7.4.
The Pacers still have a brilliant starting rotation, and that’s been good enough to stay in first place in the East all season long. But Indiana couldn’t even get it going against the lottery-bound Cavs. Why should we expect anything different against the best team from the West?
NBA Pick: Take the Spurs –2.5 at BetCRIS