San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers
Time: 10:35 PM EST
Spread: SAS -10.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
Only in a season which features a team chasing history could the San Antonio Spurs go so un-talked about with a 45-9 record. The Spurs will take to the road to face the Western Conference’s worst team, the 11-44 Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs are double-digit favorites in the affair with NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes setting the line 10.5 points in favor of San Antonio. The game will air at 10:30 PM Eastern on NBA League Pass.
The Spurs had a seven game win streak snapped by the L.A. Clippers just after the All-Star break, falling 105-86 last night without Kawhi Leonard available. Leonard is nursing a calf injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Leonard is the defining talent on San Antonio, though somewhat humble are his numbers. Over the Spurs past 10 games, Leonard has averaged 21 points and six rebounds per game which is slightly above his season average for scoring (20.2).
Leonard had just 17 points in the (meaningless) All-Star game, but in the Spurs three games prior to the break he had scored an average of 24 points per game. In the Spurs 98-96 victory over the Orlando Magic on Feb. 10, Leonard hit the game winning shot with less than a second to go, while scoring 29 points in the game on 12 of 19 shooting.
Joining Leonard in the All-Star game was not game staples Tony Parker or Tim Duncan, but rather free agent acquisition LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge’s numbers have fallen off precipitously from his time in Portland, but he is now part of a contending team and still putting up 17 points and eight rebounds per game while good for a PER of 21.1. Aldridge is shooting 50 percent from the field and averages 1.23 points per shot, which trails only Leonard.
Parker, Duncan and Manu Ginobili have all become role players by this juncture in their respective careers, though both Parker and Duncan still start. Parker averages 12 points and five assists per game, while Ginobili is good for 10 points per game. Duncan still sees 25 minutes per game and averages 8.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
The trio has been staples of the Spurs’ dynasty over the past decade-and-a-half, but the Spurs will keep marching when the group retires. San Antonio has added the pieces (Leonard and Aldridge specifically) to ensure head coach Gregg Popovich has the talent necessary to keep San Antonio in a position to contend for seasons to come.
The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, are still performing the Kobe Bryant farewell tour. L.A. is 6-18 at home this season, but it seems unlikely the Spurs turn in a dud. That is even considering the team played less than 24 hours ago. The Lakers have dropped its past three games, falling to the Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Louis Williams and Jordan Clarkson combined for 50 points on a combined 17 of 30 shooting in the Lakers loss to the Cavs, but Kobe Bryant shot just 5 of 16 from the field in the game. Kobe is averaging 17 points per game this season but his efficiency has fallen through the floor. He is shooting just 34.9 percent from the field. Over the Lakers’ past 10 games, his scoring numbers have picked up, but he is still shooting just 37 percent from the floor.
Bryant’s 21.1 points per game have not abetted the Lakers in winning many more games, and the focus is undoubtedly on obtaining a top-level free agent and more young talent in the draft. Perhaps Kobe’s biggest contribution to the Lakers has been that he has made the rebuilding either by virtue of the Lakers being so horrible this season. But that is a macabre and sarcastic view on the retiring of an NBA legend.