Spurs Coasting Into Playoffs
After locking up the #1 overall seed in the West again, the Spurs have been coasting into the playoffs. They rested both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli on Friday night, and it looks as if there is absolutely no reason not to sit them out once again tonight. Nothing is official as of early this afternoon however.
Because of the likelihood of one or both of them sitting, the NBA Odds have the Rockets as -5 ½ favorites at home, with a total of 212. Houston is still in danger of not having home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and they will surely be gunning for a win tonight in order to hold onto the 4th seed.
Another incentive the Rockets have to play their starters extended minutes tonight is the return of Dwight Howard. Howard made his return over the weekend, and will probably play at least some in both of the Rockets’ final two games. He will need every bit of court time he can handle to get his conditioning back to where it needs to be for the playoffs. Houston looks to be locked into a battle with the Blazers in the first round, and they will need a 100% Howard if they want to best Portland.
For the Spurs, they might also need to play one of their stars tonight. Tony Parker had some rest over the month of March and after the All Star Break, and reports out of San Antonio are that he may be lobbying head coach, Greg Popovich to play some tonight against Houston. If he does play for around 15-20 minutes that will almost surely improve my play on this game.
The Sharp Pick
However with still no official word on the statuses of Duncan and Ginobli, I think the spread is off limits. Besides, the total of 212 is a lot more valuable tonight, especially if the Spurs’ stars sit out again. That would shorten the Spurs’ bench and leave fewer guys to carry the load. This should lead to less defense, and definitely more scoring opportunities for the Rockets.
As I mentioned above, the Rockets will use this one to integrate Howard back into the offense, and I think because Howard is a big guy, it’s needed even more. This is still a young team without a lot of playoff experience outside of Harden and Howard who have both been to an NBA Finals. Plus, the Rockets have been an over cashing machine this season, and even more so recently. At 212, it’s just too low.
Houston has cashed the over in seven straight games this season, and in 14 of their last 16 overall. They have dropped over 106 points per game against the Spurs in three previous matchups this year, and on the season, the Rockets are 45-33-2 cashing the over.
The Spurs on the other hand have cashed the over in three of their last five, and four of their last six games overall this season. These last few days will be very relaxed for San Antonio, and they should show it in their defense. Houston is still playing for seeding, home court advantage, and to get Howard back into shape. Needless to say, there should be a ton of points from the Rockets for our NBA picks.
NBA Pick: OVER 212