Spurs - Clippers Series Preview

WHAT MIGHT BE THE STRONGEST FIRST ROUND SERIES EVER BEGINS SUNDAY NIGHT WHEN SPURS VISIT CLIPPERS

Through the second half of the season, both the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers were consistently performing at a level that would normally be considered "championship caliber" basketball. Now...Golden State and Cleveland were also playing that well or better...the elites are truly terrific this season. But, it's seems like a CRIME that the Spurs and Clippers have to face each other in the FIRST ROUND of the NBA Playoffs! Neither would be out of place in the League Finals, yet one will be displaced from the brackets early in the tourney.

The market considers San Antonio as the slightly better team given the current pointpsread of Clippers by 1. Los Angeles has home court, which is usually worth about 3 points in the playoffs. Do the oddsmakers and sharps have it right? Or, did San Antonio create some illusions down the stretch by peaking just as everyone else was going through the motions. Let's see what we can learn from JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats...

Offensive Efficiency
San Antonio: 106.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #6 in the NBA)
LA Clippers: 109.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)

There was a perception in the media this year, and from some on the East Coast who didn't stay up late to watch Clippers games, that the team kind of hobbled through the season because of injuries. The only guy getting press was an inside defender who blocked shots and grabbed rebounds. Well, YOU need to be aware that Chris Paul and company had the best per-possession offense in the NBA this season. Better than Golden State's amazing group. Better than ANYBODY when you adjust for tempo. San Antonio is still very good...and better than what #6 would suggest when healthy. Two great offenses going at it here...with a slight edge to the Clips.

Defensive Efficiency
San Antonio: 99.6 per 100 possessions (ranked #3 in the NBA)
LA Clippers: 103.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #15 in the NBA)

This is why the Spurs are getting the edge in the markets. They play great team defense in a way that really disrupts what other teams are trying to do. The Clippers may make some highlight reel blocks. But, they're only league average overall on the defensive end. They don't have a bench...which means the starters have to back off sometimes to avoid foul trouble. San Antonio is the most serious threat to Golden State in the West because they're great on both sides of the floor. Handicappers will have to determine if their stats overstate the case because so many late season opponents were either tanking or saving themselves for the postseason. The burden of proof probably favors the Spurs since this same group won last year's championship!

Pace Ranking
San Antonio: #17
LA Clippers: #10

The Clippers like to play at pace...though that can be an issue in the playoffs when you don't have any depth! Los Angeles must figure out a way to take full advantage of its weaponry while keeping everyone on the floor. The Spurs are so close to league average in tempo that you can't really get them out of a comfort zone. Clearly, San Antonio will try to slow things down a bit so they can do that to the Clips.

Against the Spread
San Antonio: 41-39-2
LA Clippers: 37-44-1

Both teams were overrated for much of the season in terms of market expectations. San Antonio snapped out of that late in their annual rodeo trip and stormed home. The Clippers have trouble covering some of their big spreads because the weak bench can't project garbage time leads. There may not be much garbage time in this competitive series, so it's less of an investment issue.

Vegas Line: LA Clippers by 1, total of 207

You see respect for the offenses with that high total of 207. We mentioned at the top that the Spurs are seen as the better team based on that pointspread. We can expect San Antonio around -5 when the series moves to Texas on Friday.

JIM HURLEY loves handicapping the NBA Playoffs because his unique TEAM HANDICAPPING approach allows him to cover all the angles. His scouts and sources chime in. His statheads crunch all the numbers. His computer programmers run simulations around the clock. And, his Wise Guy connections let him know what the smart money is doing. It all comes together to get YOU the BEST BETS ON THE BOARD!

You can always purchase BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 Saturday morning before the first tip. Be sure to ask about extended packages that take you through the NBA Championships and/or the MLB All-Star Break.

Here's what's coming up this week in the NOTEBOOK:

Monday: Milwaukee at Chicago (series discussion and a review of Game One)
Tuesday: Boston at Cleveland (series discussion and a review of Game One)
Wednesday: Portland at Memphis (series discussion and a review of Game One)
Thursday: Golden State at New Orleans Game Three Preview
Friday: Toronto at Washington (series discussion and a review of Games One)
Saturday: Atlanta at Brooklyn (series discussion and a review of Games One and Two)
Sunday: Cleveland at Boston Game Four Preview

You got a taste of postseason thrills on Saturday. Fasten your seatbelts for a wonderful ride to riches. Thanks to JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK...THE WINNING IS JUST BEGINNING!

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