It cost the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 to rest their stars ahead of Saturday’s clash with Memphis. But the vast fine handed out for leaving out Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili against Miami on Thursday may prove to be worth every cent if their full-strength squad knocks off the Grizzlies in a battle of the Western Conference’s two hottest teams.
There’s still a sense of injustice at the punishment from the league and you can bet that the trio, who were deemed in need of extra rest, will be out to back coach Gregg Popovich in the best way possible – with victory.
Last season, San Antonio won all four meetings between the sides and their only loss in their last six outings was that narrow reverse to Miami in which the reserves underlined their worth. But Memphis arrives with 12 wins out of 13, out-scoring opponents by an average of 8.8 points while going an impressive 4-1 on the road. The Spurs are -5.5 on the handicap at 1.91 but this could be a titanic close battle.
After squeezing past the Spurs, Miami turn their attentions to Brooklyn in a clash of two clubs on a roll. The Heat have won five straight, all by ten points or less, but they have found it harder going against strong defensive opponents in their 11-3 start.
The Nets also arrive with five wins in a row and have been giving up 90.4 points per night this term. They’ll be an awkward foe for Miami – who are favoured by 8 points - but with Brook Lopez set to miss the game with a sprained foot, the Heat will get ample opportunities at the basket to assert their class. But look at Deron Williams who is 1.85 to score over 16 points at 1.85.
After a positive start, the LA Clippers have stumbled with four defeats in their last five amid a defensive slump which has seen them concede 100 points on four occasions. They’ll welcome the visit of struggling Sacramento to get back on track with the Kings, who have yet to win on the road, piling up only 94.4 points per game. Go over the line of 197. total points but it might be closer than the handicap of +11 on the Kings.