Spurs-Mavericks Preview

TOP SEEDED SPURS MAY BE VISITING FIRST ROUND OPPONENT THURSDAY NIGHT

The San Antonio Spurs are going to be the #1 seed in the loaded Western Conference Playoffs once again this season. Their first round opponent has yet to be determined, as Dallas, Phoenix, and Memphis are fighting it out for the last two spots on the dance card. And, it's conceivable that Golden State could even fall back into the #8 spot.

If the Spurs WANT to face the Mavericks in the first round, they can help force the issue by beating them in Game One of Thursday's TNT doubleheader. If they don't want to play them, they could help force THAT issue by losing!

San Antonio clearly brought limited intensity to Tuesday Night's loss at Minnesota. Perhaps that was to set the stage for a more active approach to a two-night challenge that includes Dallas, then Phoenix in the river city on Friday. We just mentioned that the Suns are in the hunt for playoff life as well. Handicappers will have A LOT to think about regarding those two games. For us...let's get to the numbers...

Offensive Efficiency
San Antonio: 108.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #5 in the NBA)
Dallas: 109.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #3 in the NBA)

Both of these teams run beautiful offenses. San Antonio's represented the Mona Lisa for years with their veterans. Dallas, led by Dirk Nowitkzi, can be unstoppable because he's gold one-on-one, and he's a great passer out of double teams. Both offenses abuse bad defenses...get their shots vs. good defenses...and find open looks even in crunch time against the best defenses. Truly elite offenses.

Defensive Efficiency
San Antonio: 99.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #3 in the NBA)
Dallas: 105.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #22 in the NBA)

The big difference between these Texas powers is that San Antonio also shines on the defensive end. They don't get much credit for that. When the media sees old teams, they assume they're too old to play aggressive defense. San Antonio is very smart in how they guard the basket and attack opposing guards. It's not as physical as what you see in the East. But, it's clearly effective given their rank in the superior conference. Dallas is poor on defense, with newcomer Monta Ellis adding little on what was already Nowitzki's weaker half of the floor. Dallas is a borderline playoff team because they don't defend.

Pace Ranking
San Antonio: #12
Dallas: #16

Would you have guessed San Antonio was the fast of the two teams? Dallas is seen as a high scoring team, which often tricks people into assuming fast-paced. Again, San Antonio is seen as old, which tricks people into thinking they're slow. Dallas is right at league average, while the Spurs are just a touch faster.

Against the Spread
San Antonio: 43-35
Dallas: 43-36

Another case this week of quality teams cashing tickets against market prices even though oddsmakers and sharps already know they're good! It's amazing how far over .500 the Spurs are the last several years. It's like the market always assumes they'll be over the hill...while the team still proudly stands right on top of the hill like always. Dallas would move past the Spurs with the better ATS record were they to cover Thursday's matchup. Two money teams thus far.

JIM HURLEY will be working very hard on the Thursday card to find you the best available options. There's also Denver/Golden State in the TNT nightcap, and plenty of baseball to look at as well. You can always purchase BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call our handicapping office weekdays during normal business hours at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on combination packages that feature both the NBA and Major League Baseball. The schedule is really going to pick up in both sports Friday and through the weekend...so take care of business Thursday!

Here's the likely big game preview schedule for us here in the NOTEBOOK the next few days:

Friday: Indiana at Miami (we'll also talk generally about Eastern playoffs)
Saturday: Phoenix at Dallas (huge in the race for #8 in the West)
Sunday: Baseball break to look at Yankees/Red Sox in ESPN's Sunday Nighter
Monday: Memphis at Phoenix is the most likely playoff chase choice
Tuesday: New York at Brooklyn if it matters (otherwise baseball)
Wednesday: The biggest matchup on the final night of the regular season

Are you getting excited about the coming NBA Playoffs? March Madness was great...but the BIG BOYS are about ready to provide a highlight reel for the ages. Be sure you GET THE MONEY every step of the way with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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