Indiana at San Antonio
Time: 6 PM (CT), NBA League Pass
Spread: SAS -6
Odds c/o 5dimes
The San Antonio Spurs have been without star player Kawhi Leonard most of the year, and with a set back in his recovery that looks to continue to be the case. Has it stopped Gregg Popovich from amassing wins, though?
Of course not!
The 30-17 San Antonio Spurs will play host to the surprisingly good Indiana Pacers at 6 PM (CT) on NBA League Pass. San Antonio enters as 6-point favorites in a game with an uncharacteristically low over/under of just 198.5 points.
San Antonio, of course, gets it done with defense, so to see the total so low should be no surprise to NBA bettors. The Spurs hold opponents to a league-best 97.6 points per game, while mustering 100.9 itself with an amalgam of role players overachieving in a way only Popovich can provoke. Without Leonard, the Spurs lack a premier scorer or anything close to a star on the roster, but it has hardly mattered. Though San Antonio has cooled of late with just a 5-5 mark over its past 10, it still sits a heady No. 3 in the Western Conference, leading No. 4 Minnesota by a half-game as the season approaches the All Star break.
To make matters worse without Leonard, the Spurs will also be without Rudy Gay who is dealing with a right heel injury. Manu Ginobili is also questionable with a thigh bruise. Even so, this is a team that can continue to milk top-notch production from forward LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol is always capable of a throwback type game, an ageless type star in his own right of the San Antonio mold. Guards Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray do a great job tag-teaming at the 1-spot, combining to average 16 points and 5.2 assists per game.
Veteran point guard Tony Parker is still in the mix as a key reserve, and his composure and veteran leadership play a much bigger role than his humble eight points and four assists per game. The Spurs, lacking star power, simply continue to maximize the talents of so many players, and though it enters this game with only two-double-digit scorers available, it still is a six-point favorite. If that does not speak loudly of Pop’s coaching ability, what does?
The Indiana Pacers meanwhile have been the surprise team of the Eastern Conference thus far, and one need look no further than the breakout season of guard Victor Oladipo to determine why. Indy also has gone 5-5 over its past 10 games, but should continue to maintain about a .500 record and make its way into a lower seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Truthfully, no one expected the Pacers to be this “Decent,” and the team could be better still if Myles Turner eventually realizes the star power he possesses and begins to take more shots.
Instead thus far, it has been Oladipo and his 24 points, five rebounds and four assists per game that lead the team. Oladipo has a PER of 24.0, and finally seems to have realize the true value of the three-point shot. Once so highly dependent on the mid-range game, Oladipo has adapted to this era of NBA basketball and is attempting 6.3 threes per night at a 40 percent clip. Turner is taking just 10.7 shot attempts per night though in his 29 minutes a game, and his biggest impact has been his rim protection, as Turner averages a stellar 2.24 blocks per game thus far.
Not to be forgotten in the mix has been the strong play of sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic. The new acquisition seemingly could fit on every team, as shooters tend to, but Bogdanovic has averaged 13.3 points per game while shooting 37.6 percent from three on 4.8 attempts per night. Darren Collison is a clear downgrade from George Hill, but has done as well as possibly could have been expected in posting 12.6 points and 5.3 assists in 30 minutes a night. Rounding out the Pacers’ rotation is center Domantas Sabonis, stretch-4 Thaddeus Young and a resurgent Lance Stevenson.
Sabonis came with Oladipo in the trade that sent Paul George to OKC, and he has proven to be much better as an interior player than the stretch-4 he functioned as during his rookie season last year. Young is good for nearly 12 points per game and keeps power forwards away form the basket. The Pacers simply are a much better constructed team than we initially credited them for entering this season, but no one expected Oladipo to go from being a middling starter to an All-Star in one offseason either.
What a difference coaching and play style makes, because Oladipo has always possessed the sheer talent to be this good, as a No. 2 overall pick who wasted his first several seasons with poor coaching in an Orlando Magic uniform.