Indiana Pacers (24-22) at San Antonio Spurs (30-17)
Last night we took a hard-luck loss when we backed the defending champion Golden State Warriors on the road at Houston. The Warriors led 104-100 with six minutes left in the game after trailing most of the afternoon. It looked like they had the momentum to complete the comeback and finish off the game. But James Harden wasn’t about to have that and completely took over and abused Steph Curry down the stretch.
Harden hit a circus-style three-pointer to stretch the lead to 114-108 and then was able to block a Steph Curry three on the ensuing possession that essentially sealed the game for the Rockets. The loss snapped Golden State’s fourteen game road winning streak, and they are officially on notice in the Western Conference.
After this loss, there is no chance that the Warriors are going to want to play a best of seven conference finals in Houston, so I expect them to push hard to lock up the number one seed and keep the path to the finals going through Oakland. Today we focus in on a matchup between the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Indiana Pacers look to finish up a long road trip tonight as they travel to San Antonio to play the Spurs. The Pacers are clinging on to the seven seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race and can ill afford a third straight loss tonight. This game marks the fifth straight road game for the Pacers, and after starting the west coast swing 2-0, they have dropped two straight and would love to win tonight to wrap up a winning road trip.
The Spurs are adjusting to life without superstar Kawhi Leonard as the league’s best defender is out indefinitely with a right quad injury. The Spurs are -6-point home favorites tonight. The game total over-under is set at 199 points. Tipoff I scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from the AT&T Center.
The San Antonio Spurs aren’t going to win a title if Kawhi Leonard doesn’t come back this season. They probably won’t win a title even if Leonard comes back at full strength, but without the lockdown defender, there really is no path to a deep playoff run for San Antonio this year. That being said, Greg Popovich is still the best coach in the NBA, and he has this team winning at a high rate even without their best player in Leonard.
Kawhi has missed all but nine games this season and even when he did play, he was limited. They shut down the perennial All-Star, and he could miss the rest of the season with a nagging injury. The Spurs have still managed to play themselves into the three seed in the west with the short-handed roster.
The Spurs have managed to run up such a stellar record by being an elite home team. The Spurs 19-2 record at home is the best in the NBA this year. They will need to play well at home once again tonight if they want to hold off a Pacers team that is poised for a trip to the playoffs.
Not many expected much success from the Indiana Pacers this season after they shipped off the face of the franchise, Paul George, in the offseason. But it is quickly looking like that might have been a very savvy move as what they got in return for George looks to be some very solid building blocks for the future.
The Pacers picked up Victor Oladipo who looks like an All-Star and Domantas Sabonis who has turned into a double-double machine this year. Losing your best player and a superstar like George is never easy, but the Pacers have put enough pieces together to compete for a playoff spot this season, a year or two earlier than most people thought would be the case.
The current road trip for the Pacers has been an up and down one. They started out solid with wins against the Suns and the Jazz, but it looks like they might have lost some steam as they dropped the next two games to the Blazers and the Lakers. Losing by thirteen points to the Lakers when they were playing without Lonzo Ball, was a tough pill to swallow, and I expect Indiana will be happy to wrap up this long road trip tonight in San Antonio.
This is some more situational betting for me. The Spurs are elite at home. The Pacers are on game five of a five-game road trip and looked tired the last two nights out.
I have said it a million times and will say it again tonight. When you give an NBA team a free pass to take a night off, like playing on the road against the best home team in the league after a long road trip, they are almost always going to take you up on it and give a half effort.
Even if the Pacers came out and played hard, they could very easily lose this game by more than six points. But the fact that they are likely to come out flat and mail this game in, makes me really like the Spurs at home.
Give me the San Antonio Spurs in a not all that close game that sees them win and cover easily tonight at home.