NBA on ESPN Picks: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

Kawhi Leonard is averaging 19.9 points per game for the Spurs this season.
Kawhi Leonard is averaging 19.9 points per game for the Spurs this season.

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks
Time: 8:30 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: SAS -6.5
Total: 197

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The San Antonio Spurs are 41-8, but are just 14-8 on the road as all eight losses have come away from San Antonio. The Spurs will test its luck on the road once again in Dallas as the Mavericks host the Spurs at 8:30 Central on ESPN.

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NBA oddsmakers are favoring the Spurs by 6.5 points with an over/under set at 197. The Spurs are averaging 104.6 points per game, and the Dallas Mavericks are averaging 100.4 per game this season. San Antonio, though, has held opponents to just 91.3 points per game and possesses the biggest differential in the league of +13.3.

San Antonio most recently knocked off the New Orleans Pelicans 110-97 last night. LaMarcus Aldridge had a season-high 36 points on 12 of 20 shooting while also going 12 of 12 from the free throw line.

Veteran David West started in place of Tim Duncan once again and had 14 points, five assists and five boards. The Spurs also got 26 points, five boards and three blocks/steals from Kawhi Leonard. All cylinders are clicking in San Antonio, even with Tim Duncan on the sidelines.

Aldridge and Leonard will represent the Spurs in the All-Star game. Leonard leads the team in scoring at 19.9 points per game while posting a team-best PER of 25.5. Aldridge’s numbers have dipped this season since leaving the Portland Trail Blazers, but he is still good for 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and his efficiency has increased.

Over the Spurs past five games, Aldridge is shooting 59.1 percent from the field while averaging 21.8 points per game. He has had 25 or more in three of those five games, but his board work has been a little off with just five rebounds per game. He has not had a double-digit rebound game since Jan 27 against the Houston Rockets, when he had 25 points, 10 boards and five assists in a 130-99 Spurs win.

Duncan has been ruled out for tonight’s game against Dallas, and Manu Ginobili is expected to miss a lot of time too. Gregg Popovich said of their absence, “We’ll miss their play, but their leadership is just as important. When those two guys are on the court, everything just seems to work a little more smoothly and everybody knows where to go. So we’ll miss them for that as much as anything.”

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Even without their leadership the Spurs seem to be rolling. The 117-103 loss toe the Cleveland Cavaliers was disappointing, but the Spurs remain unbeaten at home (27-0) and would likely be receiving a lot more attention if not for the league-wide fixation on the Golden State Warriors.

The Spurs sport the depth to get through the injuries of Ginobili and Duncan, though. It will require several players to step up, but West has been up to the challenge and the Spurs are getting more play out of Jonathan Simmons in the backcourt and forward Kyle Anderson. Combining that with Boris Diaw and Danny Green, the Spurs bench should be good to replace Ginobili and Duncan.

Pop’s citing of the loss of leadership remains valid, but the Spurs are so good at playing within his system and knowing where one another are going to be. San Antonio is averaging 25.3 assists per game on an average of 40.8 made field goals. That is a testament to unselfishness and proper ball movement.

The Dallas Mavericks are coming off back-to-back losses to the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. The most recent was the 93-90 loss to Miami as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 38 points. Wade struggled with his shot, especially in the first half, going 1 of 11, but turning it around to shoot 5 of 8 in the second half.

The Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitzki’s 28 points on 10 of 21 shooting and five Mavericks scored in double-figures. Dallas shot just 39.1 percent from the field in the game, though. The lack of turnovers (just four) and the fact that Miami was just 42 percent from the floor kept the game close.

Dallas is 15-9 at home this season but chases San Antonio by an insurmountable 14.5 games in the standings. The Mavericks can hope to overtake Memphis for second in the Southwest division, but currently Memphis holds a 2.5 game lead in the standings.

Dirk Nowitzki continues to shine as Dallas’ leading scorer, even if he has fallen off a good bit. Dirk is averaging 17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.37 blocks/steals per game. The Mavericks are getting good contributions from Deron Williams, tragically fallen off though his career is in its own right. Williams has averaged 13.9 points per game and 5.3 assists per game (yet is still posting a sub-par 14.4 PER as a result of his 41.4 percent field goal percentage on 12 attempts per game).

Perhaps the most disappointing Maverick has been Chandler Parsons. He started the year with injuries, but has hardly come around. Parsons is averaging just 12.3 points and he is seeing just 27.8 minutes per game.

The Mavs are getting more out of journeyman Zaza Pachulia, who sees more minutes (29.6) and averages a double-double with 10.3 points and 11 rebounds per game. For all that Pachulia is or is not, he hustles and makes the most of his talents and the Mavericks have been better than expected with no real premier players at the 5-spot. Enigmatic head case JaVale McGee has been a non-factor this season and the Mavs have no other centers.

For a team getting by on two past-their-prime point guards in Williams and Raymond Felton, the Mavericks remain in the thick of the playoff chase and cannot be written off as a team quite yet.

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