NBA Handicapping: San Antonio Spurs in the Playoffs
by George Monroy - 4/10/2013
The San Antonio Spurs have been the most consistent and well-run team in the NBA since the end of the Michael Jordan-era. The organization has four titles, 15 straight playoff appearances, and multiple 50- to 60-game winning seasons. San Antonio’s biggest rival over the last 13 years, the Los Angeles Lakers, have retooled no less than five times and has had six coaches during that span. But for all its dominance, the Spurs have not won an NBA title in nearly six seasons and have been eliminated as a top-three seed in the first-round of the playoffs twice in the last four years.
NBA bettors can count on the Spurs to consistently win 50 games each year, while remaining competitive and covering spreads. However, there are legitimate concerns about whether or not San Antonio can continue to play deep into May and June. The team might not be a solid betting option for gamblers late in the postseason because of their age and the every-other-day grind of a playoff series. The Spurs simply hit a wall after Game 2 of their conference finals matchup against the Thunder last year and ended up losing the next four games after having won their first 10 of the postseason.
Let’s take a closer look at the Spurs’ postseason chances by going over their possible opponents during each round of the playoffs.
First round: Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, or Houston Rockets
Age will definitely play a factor in the Spurs playoff run, especially ATS wise. Neither the Jazz, Lakers or Rockets have much of a chance at beating San Antonio in a seven-game series, but they could cover the spread during any game. The Spurs have played those three teams nine times this season and have won seven of those games. However, they have only covered the spread on four of those occasions.
San Antonio is already having trouble covering spreads during the tail end of the season, as they have a 3-7 ATS record over the last 10 games and a 4-11 record over their last 15 games. Expect the team to get out of the first-round with ease, but do not be surprised if they come out with a losing ATS record.
Second round: Los Angeles Clippers, or Memphis Grizzlies
The second round is where the Spurs will feel the true grind of a playoff series. The team is mostly likely to be facing either the Clippers or the Grizzlies, two teams that can push them into a long, back-and-forth series. San Antonio matches up favorably against the Clippers, as they have won eight of their last 12 meetings (including the postseason), and should be able to win a playoff matchup against them. The Spurs don’t cover the spread as often against Los Angeles and have only have a 6-6 ATS record over those 12 games.
The Grizzlies are a team that will not only cover spreads against the Spurs but could eliminate them from the playoffs altogether. Memphis has a 12-7-1 ATS record against San Antonio over their last 20 games (last three seasons) and is 9-11 straight up, with a first-round playoff series victory as well. Expect the Spurs to have a difficult time covering spreads during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Conference Finals: Oklahoma City or Denver Nuggets
The Spurs are most likely to be playing the Thunder in the conference finals for the second year in a row. Denver is a very good team, but injuries to a few key players may have crushed their playoff hopes. The Thunder, on the other hand, match up perfectly against the Spurs. Oklahoma has won six of their last 10 matchups and has covered the spread seven times during those games.
The San Antonio Spurs are a very good team and have the skills and talent to make a deep playoff run, but a few ATS stats and trends seem to point otherwise. Don’t be surprised if the Spurs have trouble covering spreads throughout the playoffs even if they do make a deep run. Remember to bet wisely, and may the spread be with you.
Read more articles by George Monroy
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