San Antonio Spurs at Washington Wizards
Time: 6 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: SAS -6
Odds c/o Bet Online
San Antonio won 109-103 over the Boston Celtics on a post-Thanksgiving Day Matinee Saturday and turns around to face the Washington Wizards on the second half of a back-to-back.
The Spurs still have yet to lose a road game this season with a 9-0 road mark. Washington is also on the second half of a back-to-back as it hosts the Spurs. San Antonio is 6-point favorites in the game which has a 209.5 total and will air on NBA TV at 6 PM Central Time.
Yesterday afternoon, it was a combination of Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance and a huge game from the Spurs bench which made the difference in knocking off the surprisingly-mediocre Boston Celtics. Leonard had 25 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 35 minutes, but the Spurs bench came and added another 56 points as David Lee, Davis Bertans and Patty Mills all scored in double figures. San Antonio shot 47 percent from the floor and hit 11 of 24 from three-point range, while also getting to the line to knock down 22 of 25.
That is one of the biggest issues for teams looking to derail the Spurs this year: the depth is just so automatic and such a product of Gregg Popovich’s continually brilliant system. San Antonio really goes about 13 players deep, nearly unfathomably, getting contributions from the end of its bench as though they are key starters or rotation players.
Leonard is, of course, the key cog that makes it all work, but he has been getting a lot of help from guys that may have not even been on casual fans’ radars at all prior to this season.
The main culprits for the Spurs’ success has been Leonard, Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills, but there are nine Spurs that average at least five points per game, and San Antonio has no trouble scoring the basketball in averaging 103.6 points per game this season. They also assist 23.1 field goals per game, while shooting 46 percent as a team and nearly 40 percent from three as a team (worthy of an exclamation mark)!
Leonard has become a major threat from downtown and averages two made threes a game at a 40 percent clip, while even big men Gasol and Aldridge have got in on the act, averaging a made three (combined) and both shooting great percentages (50 and 43, respectively). There are just so many ways the Spurs can hurt their opponents, and the fact that San Antonio can count on its team defense to hold opponents to just 98.3 points per game (No. 6 stingiest in the NBA) is all the better for Pop’s bunch.
Things have not gone nearly as well in the nation’s capital for the Wizards. Washington has won two straight, but those were wins over other doormats, in Phoenix and Orlando. The Wiz are still just 5-9 this season, and there seems to be a lot of discord on the team, though it has been somewhat slow in surfacing. Marcin Gortat’s comments about Washington’s disastrous bench only highlighted that things are not all well in the club house.
But those complaints were most certainly valid and true. Outside of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat—the starting unit—no other Wizard makes much of an impact nor is playing good basketball. The leading bench scorer, Marcus Thornton, is little more than an ineffective chucker, evidenced by his 36 percent field goal percentage and eight points per game.
Second-year swingman Kelly Oubre Jr., too, has been slow in coming on, and no other Wizard has lived up to expectations, either. Its two free agents from Orlando this offseason, Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith, have both been particularly bad.
Nicholson is fighting for his NBA life after three seasons of poor play in Orlando, and Smith is coming off a career year. But they are combining for six points per game and neither is playing more than 11 minutes a night. The Wizards are playing all five starters in excess of 30 minutes per game and still losing about one-third their contests, which hardly bodes well going against the deepest and strongest bench in the league in San Antonio tonight.
Given that Bradley Beal will likely be suspended for his attempted choking of Orlando’s Evan Fournier, and this has the potential to be a big disaster and push Washington into double-digit losses already this season.