Spurs Looking Like Champs Again
Tony Salinas: Spurs Looking Like Champs Again
I'm very excited about Wednesday Night's Chicago-San Antonio game in the NBA (to be televised nationally by ESPN). The Spurs have been on a tear recently, and have re-established themselves as a championship contender. Chicago gave Miami a great run for its money last year, and will likely do so again in the Eastern Conference playoffs in a few months.
Given how great Miami and Oklahoma City are playing right now, you can't say that Chicago-San Antonio is a championship preview. But, it's certainly a "potential" championship preview...and it is a must-see meeting between likely #2 seeds in each conference.
You regulars know I pay a lot of attention to the Texas teams in all sports. It's interesting that all three Texas NBA teams have been playing so well of late.
San Antonio owned a 12-9 record after losing an overtime game to Dallas back on January 29th. The Spurs closed out the first half of the season on a 12-1 tear that included eight wins over probable playoff teams. The only loss was a tank job at Portland when Coach Gregg Popovich gave his stars the night off. Part of the hot streak came as a result of Manu Ginobili returning form injury. It's too bad that he got hurt again! This is still a very good team without Manu...and a great team with him.
Dallas started the season 3-5 thanks to the championship hangover. But, they're 18-8 since then...which is one of the best marks in the league over that time period. I wouldn't be surprised if Dallas peaks at the right time again this season. They're still trying to get acclimated to new personnel. And, Dirk Nowitzki is still playing his way back to playoff form. There's a good test for Dallas on tap Wednesday Night as they visit Memphis on night two of a back-to-back.
Houston was 3-7 after a mid-January loss to the Spurs. It was hard to take them seriously as a playoff threat given that start and the lack of star power on the roster. The team had to be disappointed that a projected trade that would have brought in Pau Gasol fell through. In the loaded West, Houston just didn't have enough to compete. WRONG! The Rockets are 17-7 since then...and are now in great shape to make the playoffs.
That's 12-1, 18-8, and 17-7 for the recent runs of the Texas teams. Great stuff!
All three teams have some things in common that should help them play well down the stretch:
All three are SMART teams. Popovich has always been way ahead of the curve. Mark Cuban has hired experts in various fields to turn his team into a champion, and it worked in the face of heavy skepticism. The team didn't take any steps backward in the offseason even though they lost a couple of key contributors to the playoff run. Houston's owner runs a seminar at MIT every year on stat analysis. Enough said.
All three are DEEP teams. They recognized that it was going to take depth to succeed in this condensed, fast paced season. They spread out the minutes early, and it paid off once other teams started to get tired. I think a very important part of those 12-1, 18-8, and 17-7 runs outlined earlier was the fact that the Texas teams were pretty fresh while their opponents were all wearing down. Frankly, Houston doesn't have the talent to go 17-7 over 24 games in this league! Fresh legs trumped the tired talent on other teams.
All three have GO-TO-GUYS late in close games. Nobody can win every close game on purpose. But, it sure helps to have workable strategies and multiple options. Throw in fresh legs...and these guys are going to have good fourth quarters!
I'll be watching all there teams closely this week...because I'm interested to see if their fresh legs edge takes some time off after the break. Everybody else has fresh legs again! Perhaps the market will overrate the Texas teams over the next week or two, but then go back to underrating them once everyone else gets tired again.
Tonight I'm most interested in the Spurs because of that huge showdown against the Bulls. And, honestly, I think they have the best chance to take out Oklahoma City come playoff time as long as their key players are healthy.
I may have a big play in an NBA game involving one of the Texas teams for you this afternoon here at the website (Bulls-Spurs, Mavs-Grizzlies, Rockets-Jazz). There's a huge 12-game card in the NBA, and other wild Wednesday schedule in the colleges (the last one of the regular season!). You can purchase the exact same games online with your credit card that I'm betting the biggest myself at Vegas sportsbooks. Not my leans. Not my action-heavy value bets that hit all over the board (I can't ask customers to play that many games). But, only the cream of the crop that I'm hitting the hardest!
If you have any questions about my program, call my office at 1-888-536-8880. I follow college and pro basketball closer than anybody. Don't take the worst of it through the month of March betting your own picks. GET THE BEST OF IT WITH TONY SALINAS!
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