Take Spurs over Magic for NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Saturday, March 8, 2014 1:08 PM GMT

Saturday, Mar. 8, 2014 1:08 PM GMT

The San Antonio Spurs are more or less healthy and back to beating the NBA lines. They’ve also had a lot of success beating the Orlando Magic recently.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 6 inclusive:

76-57-1 ATS

20-17 Totals

If you don’t have your health, what have you got? The San Antonio Spurs (45-16 SU, 30-31 ATS) have been through some tough times on the injury front, coinciding with a month-long 4-11 ATS slump, but they seem to be back in command now that most of the Boys in Black have returned. San Antonio is 8-1 SU and 6-3 ATS in its last nine games and threatening to take back first place in the Western Conference.

The Orlando Magic (19-44 SU, 26-35-2 ATS) probably won’t stop them. The Magic have been a little slippery this month, often playing very well against quality competition, but they ruined my life again on Wednesday when they fell 101-89 to the Houston Rockets (–8). Turns out Orlando is having its own problems with injuries – and just in time to face the Spurs this Saturday night (8:30 p.m. ET).

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Insufficient Funds

Don’t break out the violins just yet. As we go to press, this matchup is circled on the NBA odds board because Orlando’s two players in question, Jameer Nelson (illness) and Victor Oladipo (ankle) are traveling with the team to San Antonio and may be able to suit up on Saturday. This is kind of important. Nelson (13.9 PER) doesn’t have much left in the tank at point guard, but he’s still the captain of the offense, and Oladipo (13.5 PER) has given the Magic a little bit of everything in his rookie season.

Nelson and Oladipo both sat out Wednesday’s game against Houston, and while the Magic were able to get out to a hot start, they just didn’t have the horses to get the job done. Ronnie Price (8.0 PER) turned the ball over six times in 25 minutes as the starting point guard. And covering for Oladipo off the bench, shooting guards Doron Lamb (5.9 PER) and Adonis Thomas combined for two points in 24 minutes.

In theory, the Magic could have some of that sweet, sweet basketball betting value on Saturday with both Nelson and Oladipo in the lineup, joining Aaron Afflalo (17.4 PER) and Nikola Vucevic (19.0 PER) in a rare display of full health for Orlando. Nelson wasn’t available the last time these two teams met on Nov. 29; the Spurs (–9 away) didn’t have too much trouble beating the Magic 109-91. That’s five straight wins for San Antonio in this matchup at 5-0 ATS.

2013-14 NBA Championship Betting Futures

Boris the Spider

Then again, the Spurs weren’t at full capacity, either. Tony Parker (19.5 PER) missed the game for San Antonio, and while there have been times this year when Parker has played through pain at a substandard level, he’s performed quite well over the past three games since returning from a three-week layoff. Parker scored 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting in Thursday’s 111-87 dismantling of the Miami Heat (+3.5 away), turning the ball over just twice in the process.

We’ve been singing the praises of Patty Mills (18.9 PER) here for some time, and he was at it again on Thursday, posting nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists in just 17 minutes of relief behind Parker. But how about Boris Diaw (15.5 PER)? He started at center over Tiago Splitter (16.7 PER), who had issues containing the Heat during last year’s NBA Finals, and Diaw had a virtually perfect performance Thursday night, missing just a single free throw en route to 16 points and a team-high plus-23.

It’s good to have options. I suspect Splitter will be back in the starting lineup on Saturday, but whatever coach Gregg Popovich chooses is fine with me. I’ll take the Spurs blind in this matchup, on the assumption that Nelson and Oladipo will play. Place your NBA bets accordingly.

NBA Pick: Take the Spurs

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