The NBA season rolls on and we go straight in early on this time with a pick in order to try and take advantage of some poor lines early on.
SA Spurs -3 to beat DEN Nuggets @ 1.71 (MarathonBet) – 3 points
San Antonio are going through a slight shaky spell in their last 5 games, losing against Lakers and Utah Jazz and will need to step it up to continue maintain the lead with the front runners as they are 4.5 games back with a 16-7 record.
The Spurs have been well rested for 2 days to recuperate from the late game winner by Nick Young and try to fix that damage against a struggling Denver Nuggets team who got smashed by Houston just last night and have to travel back home right after, so there would be some exhaustion set there. Their 3 biggest players Afflalo, Lawson and Chandler who played over 35 minutes each. They have 2 major absences in Gallinari and Robinson, both of whom are big time scorers of the bench and can also hit the 3-ball when needed for them. Last night they shot 25% from 3-ball since the 2 of them have been missing. The Denver bench has been really bad last night with only Kenneth Faried the only recognized name (sill struggling for form after an injury) and Darell Arthur who had a career night with 24 points last night.
The Spurs should have their big 4 in the lineup who will all be looking to take advantage against a poor defensive Nuggets team. Duncan will look forward to meeting the Nuggets as he has averaged 22.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in the last 6 meetings between the 2 sides. They won both games at the Pepsi Center last year and will look to continue to maintain that record. The Spurs will rely a lot on their supporting cast with Danny Green, Diaw, Belenelli and a returning Thiago Splitter to chip in with performances tonight.
The Spurs are a Championship winning side as they have proved it with the same squad, but a bit of naivity has gotten to them this season, and Popovich will want to change that this game as they should look to come out with a statement with some good defense and a strong showing. For that reasons I will back the Spurs.
TOR Raptors -4 to beat NY Knicks @ 1.64 (MarathonBet) – 3 points
New York Knicks come into this game against Toronto after snapping a 10 game losing streak and beat a good Boston Celtics team. They now take their home floor against the Eastern Conference leaders in Toronto Raptors looking to try and get a victory against one of their arch rivals in the conference.
The Raptors are 4-4 since they lost one of their stars in DeMar DeRozan. While they still managed to churn out wins, they would have had a better lead against their rivals had they not dropped as many to have a 17-6 record. The Raptors have relied a lot of their offense on Lowry (21 points), Williams (15 points) and Valancuinas (12 points) in their recent outings. The good thing with Toronto is that they have a deep team established with the likes of Fields, Johnson, Ross, Vasquez, Patterson and Hansbrough to help support their 3 big players. The Raptors split their 4 games last season with the Knicks.
The Knicks have been awful this entire campaign with no single player able to support Anthony in his quest to try and turn around this poor Knicks team to get them into the playoffs. Bargnani, Early and Shumpert are definitely out with JR Smith extremely doubtful for taking the field. A lot of pressure will fall on Tim Hardaway Jr. who had some strong words for Anthony, and it will be interesting to see how the 2 play together. Amar’e Stoudemire is showing some signs of his Phoenix days, but offensively they are still bad.
This game is a matchup between 2 rivals, and things will definitely get hot when they meet. Expect Carmelo Anthony to jack up a lot of shots to try and lead the scoring, and that isolation could not be a good thing for the Knicks offense especially when they are trying to implement the triangle. Toronto have been good on the defensive end and winning games by big margins, and they will want to build a new winning streak especially with teams like winnable games Orlando, Brooklyn, Detroit and New York coming up in their next 4 games and I expect them to deal a blow to the mini-Knicks revival.