Spurs vs. Pistons Pick NBA – January 12th

We notched a winner last night with the Heat covering out in the Bay (though of course not derailing the Warriors and their home perfection), losing by eight to tuck well within the generous spread for a no-sweat winner. It never really felt like the Warriors could lose, but it also never felt like the Heat were going to get run out of the building. It isn’t often you make money betting against the Warriors but with fourteen points in your hip pocket, one can be a little more bold.

Tonight’s free pick will look to extend the winning streak by going to another place it is nearly deadly to venture; fading the San Antonio Spurs. If you can call a team with a coach who has won four championships and who just set a mark for most consecutive home wins by a Western Conference team “underrated” than this year’s Spurs fit that bill. You don’t hear much about them, but it isn’t reasonable to say they are the co-favorites to win the NBA title. They are third in offensive efficiency (Golden State is first) and first in defensive efficiency (Warriors are fourth). They are only three games back of the Warriors in the standings at a remarkable 33-6 and one could argue they have slightly better depth than Golden State.

SO betting against the Spurs is suicide, right? Well… maybe not tonight.

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Today’s Free Pick:

San Antonio Spurs -7.5 at Detroit Pistons

The Spurs are the better team. We all agree. But they are playing on the road against a hot team and a good team, and they are doing so on the back end of a road back-to-back, a situation where Popovich has been known to trifle a bit with the minutes. To counteract that perception, it is only fair I mention they are a perfect 6-0 this season on the backend of back-to-backs overall, so in 2015, he’s played his cards appropriately straight.

Not that the Spurs bench getting minutes is a BAD thing. Their bench outscores Detroit’s 50 to 22 on average. Now, Detroit’s starting lineup averages a league second 77 per game, so the damage is somewhat mitigated. The reason I bring this stat up, is that in a big game like tonight when the team is rested, expect Van Gundy to push his starters a bit extra to try and get a nice statement win for a young and developing team. Do not expect Pop to do the same.

And don’t overlook the simple fact that Detroit is a pretty good team playing at home. They are13-5 straight up at home and a staggering 13-4-1 ATS, best in the NBA. Meanwhile, despite how amazing the Spurs are overall, they are 11-6 on the road straight up.

These two teams have split the season series the last three years, and this season is easily the best the Pistons have been over that stretch. I am not sure they go all the way to “winning” tonight, but 7.5 is a lot of points to catch at home for a team that is 13-5 and hosting a team on the back end of a back-to-back on the road.

Free Pick: Detroit Pistons +7.5