NBA Powerhouse Battle: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks
December 30th, 2010 at 9:35 PM EST
Opening Spread:  San Antonio -2.5
Current Spread:  San Antonio -3.0
Opening Total:  191.5
Current Total: 191.0
Opening Moneyline:  San Antonio -140 / Dallas +120
Current Moneyline:  San Antonio -155 / Dallas +135

Dirk will most likely have his way with Duncan so we can expect to see an increase in Tiago Splitter's minutes tonight

Tonight’s game in American Airlines Center in Dallas brings together two of the premier teams in the league, the 27-4 San Antonio Spurs and the 24-6 Dallas Mavericks.  Dallas, ironically inspite of their domiance, has lost the majority of their 6 losses (5 of them) at home, so they are not the formidable team you might expect in the confines of their own arena.  San Antonio has been dominant on the road (as they have been at home of course too) and sport a 9-2 road record.  They lost their last road game, however, to the red hot Magic who delivered a 22 point knockout blow at the Amway Center in Orlando.  Dallas will pose similar problems, even if they do lack the firepower they have had in years’ past.  Despite having few roster changes, Dallas’ tempo has slowed to a more half court game which renders them averaging 98.7 a game, but giving up a a mere 93.1, and they allow opponents the third worst field goal perecentage in the league of 43.5%

San Antonio, as you might expect, has a large win margin differential of +8.4.  They are playing a much faster pace this year, just the opposite of Dallas’ shift, and are putting up an astounding 105.9 points per game while allowing 97.6.  NBA oddsmakers have set the total in the median of these two outputs and it could be interesting to see which team can dictate the tempo.  Ordinarily the home team will come out in control of the tempo, but Parker and George Hill will look to push the ball against the now slow-a-foot Jason Kidd.

Some betting trends:  San Antonio has won 12 of their past 13 games and they are 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games.  The total has gone OVER In 5 of San Antonio’s past 6 road games and it has gone UNDER in 5 of their past 6 games against Dallas.  San Antonio has won 4 of the last 6 meetings between the teams and they are 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 games against Dallas.  The total has gone UNDER In 4 of San Antonio’s last 5 games in Dallas and the Spurs have lost 7 of the last 8 in Dallas.

Dallas has won 17 of their last 19 games and the total has gone OVER in 8 of Dallas’ last 11 games.  It has also gone OVER in 5 of their last 7 at home.  They are 2-3-1 ATS in their last 6  against the Spurs.

Some key matchups for tonight’s game:

Tim Duncan & Tiago Splitter vs. Dirk Nowtizki

This marquee matchup will bring together two players with two very different styles of play, and because of that they will both have trouble with one another on defense, but expect Duncan to have more trouble because of Dirk’s length and speed advantages that will result in him getting a lot of easy turnarounds in the paint and near the elbows.  Duncan is quietly having a rather miserable season, averaging only 13 a game in 28 minutes per night.  Tiago Splitter may see more time tonight given his better ability to matchup with the nimble Nowtizki.  Splitter has played sparingly so far this season, but is getting more minutes of late and is known for his defensive prowess.  He has the speed to stay in front of Dirk and if he plays 20 or more minutes it will go a long way towards nuetralizing the perennial all-star.  Splitter is still finding his way on offense so don’t expect him to take Dirk to task on the offensive end, but he is capable of scoring if left open.  I fully expect Dirk to get the better of this matchup, especially in light of the fact Duncan has been left to cover for blown defensive stops of his perimeter playing teammates.  If he has to focus on penetrators, he will be less apt to keep a hand on Nowitzki, though it is near impossible to forget about Dirk on the offensive end.

Tony Parker & George Hill vs. Jason Kidd

As mentioned, Parker and Hill have an absolutely tremendous advantage in foot speed but Kidd seems to find a way to make up for his slow feet by playing passing lanes and keeping his arms spread out around defenders, yet doing so without fouling.  Parker and Hill are both threats for penetration and it will be up to Marion and Caron Butler to rotate into the paint to cut off driving and passing lanes.  Kidd is approaching Ancient of Days status but is still effective and is excellent as a spot up shooter when he’s not distributing the ball.  He’s actually 5th all time in threes made despite not really having the notoriety and reputation as a “lights out shooter.”  If Parker and Hill look to cheat off Kidd he will make them pay and don’t underestimate his ability to stick with young legs.  Every day he gets a little slower yet still finds a way to get it done.

This game promises to be a great one as NBA oddsmakers have set the spread rather close, only favoring San Antonio by 2.5 on the opening line.  It seems home court advantage should play a significant role, but as mentioned Dallas isn’t an unstoppable team at home by any means and the Spurs have been stellar on the road.  This one will be worth watching; mark my words.

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