Most regular season contests fail to set the box office alight. Some, however, are veritable blockbusters.
None better than Saturday’s potential Western Conference Finals dress rehearsal between the NBA’s two best teams: the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.
And while the spotlight, rightly, has been on the Dubs quest for 73 wins, it’s been almost forgotten that the Spurs are still very much in hot pursuit with number one seed not yet decided.
It is, of course, unlikely that San Antonio are going to win their last 14 games and equal the Bulls 72-10 record but they remain only four losses worse off than the record-chasing Warriors – with a further meeting to come on 10 April.
Back in January, it was Golden State who dished out a 120-90 drubbing behind 37 points from Stephen Curry but it was an uncharacteristically sloppy effort in the absence of Tim Duncan.
And the reigning champs have rarely cooled off, winning six straight headed into Friday’s tune-up against Dallas by six points at the very least.
But the Spurs have rarely looked better this term. Victors in 13 of their last 14 contests, they’ve drilled such upperclass rivals as the LA Clippers, Portland, Oklahoma City in their last three games.
34-0 at home this term, they’ll have a day’s rest going in (where they’re 34-6 so far) and they also have the highest winning margin of +12.3, slightly above the Warriors +11.4.
Where San Antonio will look to hurt their rivals is defensively. They’re giving up a league-low 92.5 points, 11.8 better off than Golden State, while at home, they average 106.2, a little above their norm, suggesting it’s worth a total points line of 208.5 or under.
One key difference of late is the offensive output of LaMarcus Aldridge who has notched 24.0ppg over his last 10 outings and his tandem with Tony Parker has become a genuine focus. The Warriors will be wary.
They should have little trouble first despatching the Mavericks although expect Steve Kerr to ease off on his starters in the fourth quarter if a blowout occurs, meaning it’s advisable to keep to a final points tally of under 217.5 – a steal at 2.70.
Saturday’s duel will count for little, eventually. But it still counts for something. And even with Golden State shining brightly, have a punt on the Spurs to make a point.
Best bet: Take San Antonio at -4.5 against Golden State