The San Antonio Spurs are holding onto top spot in the NBA’s Western Conference. Just. Yet after uncharacteristic losses to struggling Portland and Minnesota of late, they’ll hope to avoid another upset when Dallas come to The Alamo on Thursday night.
Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, both battling knee problems, should return after being rested against the Timberwolves on Tuesday as part of the league’s most obvious squad rotation policy.
It’s an approach which has earned Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praise, as well as fines, but after coming up short of last year’s Finals, when his side simply ran out of gas in the play-offs, it’s a policy that is designed to win in June, not in March.
It’s underlined by the fact that while his team are just 8-6 on back-to-backs, they’re 30-9 with an extra day’s rest.
The Spurs are 3.00 for the Western crown and 7.00 for the title but much still hangs on Tony Parker returning in rude health, with the Frenchman’s absence for the next few weeks likely to make it harder for San Antonio to retain top seeding.
They should, in theory, be good enough to see off the Mavericks, especially at home where the Spurs are 26-4. Dallas has come off second-best twice already to their Texan rivals, although they have won their last three, all on the road. All came across teams with soft interiors, however, so take the Spurs to go inside and come up trumps on the handicap of -8 at 1.91.
Carmelo Anthony will be in New York, receiving treatment, when the Knicks face Portland tonight and with their injury count stacking up, it bodes poorly for his team who are just 5-5 in his absence this term, and who score 4.6 points less per 48 minutes when he is not on court.
The Trailblazers are 20-11 at home and if LaMarcus Aldridge shakes off a migraine to play, it should give the hosts the presence they need to come out ahead.
The Euroleague’s game of the week pits Maccabi Tel Aviv against Khimky Moscow with both locked in a tight race to make the play-offs. The Russians pulled out an 88-67 victory earlier in the Top 16 round but their respective form has fluctuated since, with Maccabi on a three-game winning streak and Khimky winning two of their last four. The Muscovites are 2.80 to make it a double but have a punt on going under the total points line of 152.5 at 1.91.
Best Bet: Back the San Antonio Spurs -8 to beat the Dallas Mavericks at 1.91
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