With just one measly loss to their name, everyone’s eyes are trained on the Golden State Warriors. Rightly so.
The reigning champs are 2.70 favourites to defend their title with Steph Curry a re-dunkulous 1.27 to take a second straight MVP prize. But there’s another team that’s showing every sign that they’re gearing up for a NBA championship run this season.
Heading into Friday’s visit from the Los Angeles Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs are a fearsome 22-5 including a perfect 14-0 at home. They’re allowing a league-low 88.2 points per night, translating into a defensive efficiency rating of 92.0 – a staggering 4.2 points per 100 possessions than second-ranked Chicago.
And while scoring an average of 101.6 per night might seem like middle of the road, their relatively slow pace puts them behind only Golden State and Oklahoma City in offensive rating.
The Spurs have been relentless in pushing inside when the Warriors have created a cult of shooting with only Brooklyn gaining more of their totals from 2-point scores. Even with Kawhi Leonard notching a career-high 21 per game is, ultimately, all about efficiency and depth.
That figures to pose problems for the Clippers whose 16-10 record suggests they’ll have to raise their game to come good at 3.95 for the victory and repeat their success over San Antonio in last season’s Playoffs.
Tim Duncan will return after sitting out Wednesday’s win over Washington and although the Clips are worth a punt on a handicap of +3.5 at 2.90, it’s hard to see how they have enough tricks to conjure up an upset.
At 5.50 for the title, there’s certainly good value in taking a shot at the Spurs at this point.
- Sixers are zeros
Sunday’s primetime match-up pits the streaking Cleveland Cavaliers against the equally predictable Philadelphia 76ers in a clash of first and worst in the Eastern Conference.
The two games so far between these two have been decided by seven and six points respectively, food for thought even when a blowout might seem an odds-on certainty.
Best bet: Go over 196.5 total points in San Antonio-LA Clippers at 2.12