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NBA Futures: Consider the Spurs

   by ASA - 03/07/2012

The San Antonio Spurs are old and injured, but they’re far from irrelevant. Three Spurs starters are 29 years or older, and that’s not including injured 34-year-old Manu Ginobili, who missed most of the first half of the season after suffering an injury to his shooting hand and is now coming off the bench.
At 25-12 overall, the Spurs are a near lock (99.8 percent) to advance to the NBA playoffs for a 15th consecutive season. In a wide open West, the Spurs currently have the second-best chance of winning the championship at 6.0 percent, behind only the Oklahoma City Thunder (14.4 percent). It might be a different story if the Spurs were in the Eastern Conference, where it’d be hard to consider the Spurs as a contender when the Bulls and Heat have distanced themselves from the field.
The Spurs are projected to win 44 games, which would earn them a No. 2 seed and give them an outside chance at prying the top seed away from the Thunder. Either way, a Thunder-Spurs Western Conference final seems like a definite possibility.
If that’s the case, the Spurs’ futures odds — currently 15-to-1 — could provide value to bettors who try for a pre-planned hedge. You’d only need the Spurs to win their first two playoff series before you can lock in profit by hedging on the opponent (in this case, the Thunder and possibly the Bulls or Heat in the NBA Finals).
San Antonio has held its own at less than full strength against the league’s third-hardest schedule. Ginobili has returned, and the Spurs could make a deal at the trade deadline to increase their depth; it’s possible they could make a run at a fifth championship.
San Antonio has already played the toughest schedule to date and is 25-12 SU. The Spurs are 11-9 SU away from home and 14-3 SU at home. As stated above, they could get home court up to West Finals before likely traveling to OKC. As of right now the Spurs would match up with Houston in the first round (2-0 at home vs. Houston so far this season) and either LA Clippers or Dallas in the 2nd round (3-1 SU combined against both this season).
They wrapped up a nine game road trip right before the All-Star break and went 8-1 SU. That road trip wrapped up the first half of the season that was dominated by road games – 20 of first 34 games this year on the road so majority of second half at home. The Spurs are 13-3 SU their last 13 overall and 15-8 SU versus teams with a current .500 or better record.
With Ginobili back, the Spurs get arguably their best playmaker with the ball in his hands. He’s only played in 10 games this year. He's averaged 15+ points per game over the last seven years and his veteran leadership will be huge in the playoffs. Ginobili’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise. His injury allowed the development of younger players like DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonhard. They now have a strong core of veteran leaders plus a handful of capable young players to add depth for the rest of the season and a long playoff run.
Many people forget that the Spurs were the top seed in the West last season before being upset in the first round by Memphis. Division rival Dallas then was the most experienced team remaining in the West and was able to advance to the NBA Finals where they upset the Heat. San Antonio should hold off Dallas for top spot in Southwest this season. Dallas sputtered out of the gates and is just 7-9 SU versus current .500+ teams, and just 8-7 overall SU on road. Dallas has shown no sign of a late-season surge as the Mavs are just 3-6 over their last nine games.
Obviously San Antonio is a safe bet to advance to the playoffs, and from there we don’t see any team unseating the Spurs before they advance to play OKC in the conference finals. And at 15-1 odds to reach the finals, you’ll have your choice to ride those odds to the end, or hedge your bet accordingly.

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