Spurs have an amazing 31 wins streak at home at the moment. But with all the media attention, it’s not hard to guess who was the last team that beat the Spurs in regular season in AT&T Center (Spurs home court) – Cleveland Cavaliers.
That was an amazing game, with many lead changes and ties and one Kyrie Irving. Irving is probably the best player in Cleveland at the moment, as LeBron already 31 years old and shoots the worst percentage of his career, from three point line (only in rookie year he shot worse) and long two pointers (worst percentage of his entire career). That obviously gives defenders an edge, since they dare him to shoot, instead of going by them.
That’s not the case with Kyrie. Obviously not as strong as LeBron, he has Curry’s like qualities handling the ball and while no one in the league can shoot three pointer like Curry, Kyrie can make the shot from almost any range and in different variations. He doesn’t get enough respect, but facing Parker, who isn’t known for his defense (though I assume Green will be the one that will defend him many times), on national TV, he will try to shine. Last year, against the Spurs, he made 57 points, his career record, but it’s not only the number of points he scored, but the way that he scored them and when he scored them. With Kawhi proving he can do a great job on LeBron, Spurs have yet to prove that they can guard good point guards. Chris Paul eliminated them from the playoffs last year, Irving was the reason they lost their last home game, 10 months ago.
Cleveland right now, riding 8 games winning streak, but they covered only 3 out of those 8 games. But, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Partially the reason was that Blatt learned how to play with the full roster, trying different line ups and changing rotations. It also was partially to try and bring Kyrie back to his usual level (and they did amazing job in that), learning how to combine him and Love (since Bron and Love found out how to play together already) and solve the problem of the Center position, giving it to Thompson.
I won’t say that Cleveland solved all of their rotation problems, but Blatt been making some great rotation moves lately, bringing just the right guys from the bench, finishing games with the right line up – something that he been getting a lot of the credit for, both from media and his players (LeBron included).
Spurs on the other hand, play amazing basketball despite of LMA, not because of him. Aldridge is a work in process, but Spurs play historically good defense, with 93.5 points in 100 possessions allowed – ranked first in defensive efficiency, almost 5 points ahead of second placed Indiana, with 98.1 points. Just to show how huge is this margin – Memphis ranked in the bottom half of the league (16th place) with 102.3 points allowed. So the difference between Pacers (2nd place) and Memphis (16th place) is only 4.2 points and Spurs difference from the second place is 4.6 points!
It’s even more amazing giving the fact that many of the wins were blowouts and in blowouts, many teams allow the rival to score a bunch of meaningless points and Spurs either didn’t allow that or made such amazing job in the first three quarters that even garbage time stats, couldn’t change the overall impressive number.
What separates them from many other historically good defensive teams like Pistons, Pacers, Bulls and others, is that while those teams, had to play amazing defense, since they had mediocre offense, Spurs ranked third in the league in offensive efficiency, with 108.3 points per 100 possessions.
They lead the league in margin of efficiency (difference of points scored and conceded in 100 possessions), with 14.8 points! Everyone is talking about how amazing the Warriors are and they are right, but their margin is “only” 13.5 points.
But, while I couldn’t avoid, but to present Spurs amazing numbers here, Cleveland is my bet for tonight.
Cleveland takes regular season more seriously than Spurs do. Bron been always very focused on teams he had lost NBA Finals to and Spurs really struggle against teams with great point guards like Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kyrie and Curry.
On top of that, while we can argue that this game is 50 – 50 chance to win (at least I believe so), the line is not PK, but +5.5 points in Cleveland favor. That’s just huge number. Cleveland lost in Oakland to the Warriors, but covered the 7 points spread, so the spread obviously matters.
Both teams in great form, both know that’s it’s only regular season, but there is some pride at stake and both teams know they can meet again in the Finals. It’s way too early to talk about it, but if Cleveland win this game, they suddenly only 2 games behind the Spurs. A loss and it’s a 4 games margin.
Momentum I believe is on Cleveland side, since they are getting better and better, match ups give Cleveland a tiny edge and the line of 5.5 points closes the deal for me here.
Pick: Cleveland +5.5 points, 1.95 odds – 9 units play – Pinnacle
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