Clash of the Conference Leaders: San Antonio Spurs at Boston Celtics

San Antonio Spurs AT Boston Celtics
Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 7:35 PM EST
Opening Line:  Boston -2
Current Line:  Boston -2.5
Opening Total: 191
Current Total: 190
Opening Moneyline:  Boston -130 / San Antonio +110
Current Moneyline:  Boston -130 / San Antonio +110

How will Duncan counter Big Baby's out of place atheleticism?

Tonight’s game brings together the best team in each conference, record-wise, and has all the potential of being a possible Finals match in June.  San Antonio comes into tonight’s game with a 29-5 record, including 10-3 on the road, and Boston is 26-7 and have only lost 2 home games in 16 this year.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was not pleased with San Antonio’s effort on Tuesday in their contest against New York, a 129-115 loss.

“If we score 115 points, I expect to win,” Popovich sad. “Our defense was pathetic. It was our worst defense of the year. Nothing else tricky about it.

Popovich seemed to throw in the towel early.  He took Duncan and Parker out of the game when down by 10 with three minutes left to play — plenty of time to mount a comeback — and he did not put them back in the game.  Despite San Antonio’s 115 points, both Duncan and Ginobili inexplicably had underwhelming games, combining for only 29 points.

Tonight should be interesting.  The total is the most peculiar aspect.  Where do you set the total when you pit one of the league’s best offenses in San Antonio against the best defense in the NBA in Boston?  Will the two nuetralize or will a fast paced (or slow paced) game take over and be dictated by one team?  It should be interesting to see.

Some betting trends:

San Antonio has won 14 of their last 16 and 10 of their last 13 on the road.  They are 2-5 in their last 7 against Boston, but they have won 20 of the past 25.  They are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 against the Celtics and the total has gone UNDER in 7 of their last 10 games against Boston.  The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the last 10 road games, as well.  San Antonio has won 11 of the last 12 in Boston.

Boston is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games.  The total has gone UNDER In 7 of their last 8 games and they have won 17 of their last 20 games overall.  They are 9-1 in their last 10 at home and are 5-9-1 ATS in their last 15 at home.  The total has gone UNDER in 5 of their last 6 at home.

Key matchups:

Tim Duncan vs Glen “Big Baby” Davis

With Garnett out with the sprained knee, “Big Baby” has received another opportunity, as he did in the 08-09 playoffs, to step up and start.  And just like then, he has made the most of it.  Last game against Minnesota, Davis launched up 15 shots from the floor, hitting 7 en route to 17 points for the game.  While in terms of names you would say Duncan has the big advantage here, at this point in his career that isn’t necessarily so.  Big Baby, despite his massive frame, has a speed advantage that he can exploit against Duncan and an effective mid range jumper that will keep Duncan “honest” on defense.  Duncan should be able to get his jumpers off at will over the much shorter Davis (who is probably about 6’6″, though listed at an absurd 6’9″) and will have his opportunities to improve upon his lackluster performance against New York.

Tony Parker & George Hill vs Rajon Rondo

This one promises to be exciting.  Rondo is one of the quickest point guards to play in the NBA — ever — and Parker and Hill are no turtles either.  Rondo has yet to get his scoring going since returning from injury (5 ppg in 2 games), but did record 16 assists in the 3 point win against the Timberwolves.  He’s averaging a career high 13.6 assists this year, over three assists more than the second highest average in the NBA.  Parker is still pretty young at 28, and hasn’t yet started to slow down.  He’s one of the few defenders that can keep Rondo in front of him, and he’s having a much better year than his injury plagued 09-10 season.  His “tear drop” jumper has been executed to near perfection and enables him to get a lot of shots off over taller players by arcing the ball so high.  With Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal patrolling the paint, both good shot blockers, you can expect to see Parker attempting many of them tonight.

Tonight’s game promises to be a great clash between superpowers in the NBA.  Vegas oddsmakers have set the line very close, and it’s really hard pressed to say who has the advantage here.  The guard play will go a long way towards determining the outcome, as both point guards will have their hands full with one another trying to prevent dribble penetration.

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