The San Antonio Spurs take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a Western Conference showdown of two top-five teams today (10.30pm ET Friday on ESPN).
With the All-Star break over, the NBA is getting back into the swing of things. For the Clippers (35-22; 4th in the West), that means the second night in a row of a grueling back-to-back, which first took them to play the top-seeded Golden State Warriors (48-9; best record in NBA) and now has them hosting the Spurs (43-13; 2nd best record in the NBA).
No one would envy that kind of schedule, especially not the Clippers, who are currently tied for the fourth spot in the conference and are only separated by three games from the Oklahoma City Thunder (32-25) in seventh.
The Spurs on the other hand continue to be the gold standard of the NBA, seeking their unprecedented 18th straight 50-win season after having already assured themselves of their 20th straight of at least 40 victories. In their just 40 seasons in the NBA, the Spurs have achieved a winning record a remarkable 32 times, have reached the playoffs 36 times and have won five NBA championships. It might be hard to imagine, but this year, San Antonio might have its best shot at winning title #6 than it has in some time.
Even with the Warriors being the most super of all super teams possibly ever assembled, the Kawhi Leonard Spurs are just five games behind their rivals for the top spot in the West and in the NBA. That’s astonishing when you consider no one outside of San Antonio is talking about it. Like always, the Spurs are doing it quietly, despite the fact that historically speaking, no one can touch them right now.
The good news for the Clippers though is that in their last three times of hosting the Spurs, San Antonio hasn’t managed a single win. So far on the season as well, LA has won both meetings, including defeating the home team in early November by a 116-92 final. All-time, the Spurs have the head-to-head and it’s not even close (123 wins to 38), but dating back to 2012 the two franchises are evenly split, with each winning eight games. However, it is worth noting that San Antonio is just 2-5 against Los Angeles in their last seven straight up and just 3-4 against the spread.
These more recent numbers are a better reflection of what the Spurs and Clippers rivalry has looked like over the past few years and are much more indicative of the level of competitiveness the two franchises display.
And On the 9th Day, the Spurs Played a Basketball Game
Gregg Popovich (pictured) is one of the best coaches to step foot on an NBA court and one of the things he has become known for is resting his players more frequently than most. I mean, it’s hard to blame the guy given before Tim Duncan’s retirement, Popovich’s core consisted of the younger Leonard and the elder statesmen in veterans Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, both who are still with the team.
It’s not as if one could argue with the results. The Spurs have managed to make resting players an art and this has shown in the postseason especially, where against teams with much younger legs, the Spurs are often the ones still the most rested.
Against the Clippers, this will again be the case as thanks to the All-Star break, Popovich’s players will be coming off eight full days of rest. Ordinarily, there would be a real concern that rust could affect the Spurs’ performance. Given the age of some of these players rest is only going to be of a benefit, especially with the Clippers coming off playing the Warriors last night.
Do the Clippers Really Have the Spurs’ Number?
The Clippers are a good team and have been for a while. DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul are a trio of veterans who make up a big three that would have challenged that of Ginobili, Duncan and Parker in their best days. It was also a big three that beat Ginobili, Parker and Duncan in a highly contested playoff series in 2015.
Los Angeles erased a 3-2 deficit to win one of the biggest playoff series in franchise history. Going the full seven games, the Clippers showed grit and determination as they fought through to advance in the conference. While LA is still looking for its first championship, that series against the Spurs almost served as a measuring stick. Since then, Los Angeles has gone 9-5 SU and 8-6 ATS against San Antonio.
It would appear that as good as the Spurs are, they have their kryptonite. Now it’s just a matter of if the Clippers can continue to take advantage.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Clippers Betting Predictions & Picks
Entering this game, Spurs are road favorites, which is not surprising given their 24-7 record away from San Antonio is the best in the league. Most of the major USA sportsbooks make them 4pt favorites and the total points is sitting around 210.
Some trends to consider
The Clippers have an 11-4 SU and 10-5 ATS record in their last 15 games at home. They have also played to the under in eight of their last 11 home games.
The Spurs are 1-2 ATS in their last three road games against the Clippers. However, San Antonio is 8-3 SU and 6-5 ATS in its last 11 road games. They are also second in the NBA in point differential, averaging 8.4 more points per game than their opponents.
So what does it come down to?
For starters, is Chris Paul playing? Reports are saying the injured point guard could return to action tonight, in which case LA has a much stronger case for pulling off the upset on the books. Paul is one of the league’s best at his position and the Clippers always perform better when he is leading the offense. Here are this preview’s betting picks and predictions:
- Assuming Paul plays, I’d have to say go with the kryptonite and pick the Clippers +4pts @ -102 with 5Dimes Sportsbook to best the Spurs again. It is -105 with BetOnline & -110 with MyBookie.
- As for the total points to be scored tonight, my prediction is to go under 210pts @ -108 with 5Dimes as defense is a strength for both squads. It is -110 with BetOnline & MyBookie.