It was a case of no Tony Parker, no problem, for San Antonio on Monday as they rolled past Detroit by 39 points, but the Spurs’ ability to cope without the Frenchman for the next month will get more of a test on Wednesday when they host the Chicago Bulls.
The Spurs are 4-1 without their All Star point guard this season and they’ve repeatedly shown that their system is able to manage absenteeism due to the versatility of their entire roster. Cory Joseph and Nando de Colo, who will fill in for Parker, are both solid back-ups but this may be the time for Patty Mills to show that he can replicate his brilliant performances for Australia in last year’s Olympics in the NBA.
Regardless, it should give San Antonio, who are -8 on the handicap at 1.91, enough offensive firepower to thwart the Bulls who lost 103-89 when these two met last month. Since then, they’ve gone 4-5 and scored 100+ only once – with the Spurs 35-6 when hitting the century mark.
For a team which started the season 0-12, the Washington Wizards have somehow managed to achieve some degree of respectability by going 19-27 since breaking their duck. They’re no powerhouse but they go to Minnesota tonight with six wins from their last ten and a shot at only a sixth victory on the road.
The Timberwolves have been devastated by injury and will likely go into freefall if management decide to write off the campaign rather than risk dragging Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic off the treatment table in the pursuit of absolutely nothing. After six successive losses, back the Wizards to make it an unlucky seven for their hosts.
We’re still six months out from EuroBasket but with a few players signalling their intentions for the summer, it’s worth an early punt on who will come out on top in Slovenia.
Spain are 1.92 favourites to retain their title but a new coach and the probable absence of Pau Gasol and Jose Calderon could derail their bid to retain their title. Olympic bronze medallists Russia will not have Andrei Kirilenko, while Lithuania are likely to be without Linas Kleiza.
But Tony Parker told me a few weeks ago that he will suit up for France and with Joakim Noah set to finally make his major tournament debut, Les Bleus are great value right now at 6.50, with Serbia at 8.50 to reach the final.
Best Bet: Go over the line of 191.5 total points in Chicago – San Antonio at 1.91
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