Just as last season, the San Antonio Spurs have possession of the best record in the NBA. And this time, they’re determined that it won’t all count for nothing when it comes to the play-offs.
With the Lakers slumping, the Grizzlies and Clippers a little too flawed, and Oklahoma City and Miami just a little bit more fallible, is it time to take the Spurs seriously as a championship contender after their 18-4 start? The backcourt of Tony Parker and Gary Neal is as good as any in the league, Tim Duncan’s minutes are being paced, and there’s a real sense of unpredictability in this season’s race.
The Spurs are still only third favourites for the Western Conference at 5.85 and 12.50 to add another title and they could make a mockery of those odds come next June. On Wednesday, they’ll go for a sixth straight win when they visit the Utah Jazz, who lost 110-100 in San Antonio last month despite 29 points from Mo Williams.
The hosts have been playing well and are 8-1 in Salt Lake City so far but they’re underdogs by +3.5 points here. With two high-powered offenses, it’s likely to see a points blitz over the line of 209.5, available at 1.91.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have failed to beat a divisional rival since last February and few will give them a prayer when they head to Indiana. They’re also 2-11 on the road this term and will go up against a Pacers defence which is keeping their hopes alive in the absence of Danny Granger and the slump of Roy Hibbert. But Kyrie Irving’s return from injury coincided with a deserved win over the Lakers yesterday. And while the Pacers are favourites by -9 on the handicap, don’t be shocked if Cleveland make it a tight squeeze.
The Dallas Mavericks head to Boston on the back of a three-game winning streak and with a semblance of form for the first time this season, even with Shawn Marion sidelined. The Celtics are favoured by 6 and although Dallas are 8-1 when they score over 100, Boston’s defence is capable of holding them in check.
Bet of the Day: Take Cleveland on the handicap over Indiana at 1.91.