Spurs still a real threat for another NBA title

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The NBA season is more than two months old and teams have played more than 30 games. Thus there’s a nice amount of games from which we can start to draw meaningful conclusions as to the teams that should be considered legitimate Playoff contenders and those needing to make dramatic turnarounds in order to make a run at the post season.

At 31-2 Golden State remains the team to beat in the NBA but its lead for the top Western seed is just 3 games over 29-6 San Antonio. Most preseason predictions had the Spurs and Warriors meeting for the Western Conference Championship and with third seeded Oklahoma City (24-10) 4.5 games behind the Spurs that prediction remains very much on target.

Barring key injuries that result in extended absences we should see the Warriors and Spurs finish one-two in the West, possibly by a considerable margin come mid April.

Only 6 teams in the West have winning records, representing a dramatic change from recent seasons which were often marked by teams with winning records missing the Playoffs.

That scenario is unfolding in the East where 10 teams started this week with winning records, led by 22-9 Cleveland. The Cavaliers have played consistent basketball since the start of the season and now that they are fully healthy we should see them extend what is currently a 2.5 game lead over Chicago for the top Eastern seed.

The Bulls remain a formidable foe despite some reported internal disenchantment with new coach Fred Hoiberg among the players. Since such reports surfaced a couple of weeks ago the Bulls have responded by winning 5 of 6 since Christmas Day including their last 4 in a row.

Toronto, Miami and Atlanta all started this week having won at least 60 percent of their games.

Things seem to be unraveling in Phoenix and following the Suns’ ugly loss to the Lakers last Sunday night as Coach Jeff Hornacek could be on the way out. The players seem to have tuned him out and if a coaching change is made the Suns might be worth backing in the short term.

Pointspread results show road teams holding a 258 to 243 edge ATS with 9 games ending in pushes. Road teams have edges both when favored (80-73-5 ATS) and as underdogs (177-164-4). Using closing lines from the Westgate home teams have 6-1 edge in pick ‘em games.

Totals results continue to favor UNDER bettors with a 267-233-10 edge compared to OVER results.

Here’s a look at three games this weekend.

Toronto at Washington (Friday): Toronto continues to lead the Atlantic Division and has been playing well since the start of the season. Washington has not played at last season’s level and is one of just five Eastern teams with losing records. These teams have already met twice this season. Toronto was favored in both meetings and won each game but failed to cover in either. At the end of November the Raptors won 84-82 on the road and a month later they won 94-91 at home. Both games stayed well UNDER the Total by 34.5 and 18 points.

Washington will be playing with double revenge. Both teams are on the road Saturday with Toronto having the much easier game at Philadelphia whereas the Wizards will have a much tougher contest at Orlando. WASHINGTON/UNDER.

Chicago at Atlanta (Saturday): Both teams are off to solid winning starts as they meet for the first time this season. Both have balanced offenses and each has been involved in high scoring games of late. After playing 7 straight UNDERS in early to mid-December the Hawks have seen 8 of their last 9 games go OVER the Total.

Chicago had played 8 straight UNDERS from mid-November through early December but since have gone 10-5-1 to the OVER including 7 of their last 9 going OVER. The Bulls were expected to be a higher scoring team this season and although it has taken a while for that to occur it seems to have gotten the Bulls over some of their internal issues. OVER.

Indiana at Houston (Sunday): Indiana has played well over the first two months and seems to be at their level of two seasons ago before star Paul George was lost for basically all of last season. Houston has been one of the NBA’s biggest early season disappointments. The team that made it to the Western Conference finals last season has yet to gel.

After getting to a game over .500 with their Christmas Day upset of San Antonio the Rockets have lost all 4 games since. Their defense has been a concern all season and that is an area in which Indiana has a decided edge. Likely to be small underdogs, the Pacers are capable of pulling the outright upset. INDIANA.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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