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NBA 2013-14: What's Wrong with San Antonio?

   by Al McMordie - 12/30/2013

We’re more than one-third of the way through the NBA season, and seven teams have separated themselves from the pack: OKC, Indiana, San Antonio, Portland, Miami Houston and the Clippers. All seven of these teams have won over 20 games. Certainly, there’s no real surprise among these seven, save for Portland. Indeed, these are the teams most expected to be the contenders for the title when the season commenced.

But what is surprising when one parses the data is how poorly the defending Western Conference champion Spurs are playing against the league’s elite. So far, San Antonio has an impressive 24-7 record. But (and it’s a HUGE ‘but’) the Spurs are 24-0 (16-8 ATS) vs. foes that have not yet won 20 games, and 0-7 (both SU and ATS) vs. the elite teams mentioned above!

It’s hard to say whether this is a fluke, or whether these results portend danger for the Spurs come the Playoffs. But one thing is clear: the Spurs do not match up well vs. teams like Indiana and Houston. Both of those teams have talented, big players inside (Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard) and mercurial players on the perimeter (Paul George, James Harden). And such talent has gotten the better of the Spurs’ best defenders (Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard). The Spurs also will continue to have problems vs. the athletic, offensive juggernauts like Portland, Miami and OKC, as the Spurs’ defensive scheme hasn’t been able to slow down high-powered offenses. And such offensively-skilled teams are learning the key to defeating San Antonio is to increase the pace of the game.

In the course of the next month, the Spurs will have four games vs. elite teams. On January 4 and 17, they’ll welcome the Clippers and Trail Blazers to the AT&T Center. And then, on January 26 and 28, the Spurs will travel to Miami and Houston. It bears watching to see whether the Spurs can turn the tide, and defeat a good team. Or whether they’ll continue to struggle vs. the league’s best. Good luck, as always…Al McMordie.

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