After surviving a week that began with a road back-to-back at Brooklyn and Detroit, followed by home dates with Cleveland and Dallas, the San Antonio Spurs are off until Thursday and face a two-day work week where they’ll have to visit the Suns and Lakers. Entering the week, Phoenix had lost 12 of 13. L.A. has dropped seven of eight.
Can you say bye week?
San Antonio carries an 11-game winning streak into this game where they’ll almost certainly be a double-digit road favorite. Even though they’ve got a Monday night visit to Oakland, their first game against the Warriors this season, the rationale that they’ll be looking ahead to the Golden State showdown is a little trite.
It’s the NBA, not the NFL, so even if Gregg Popovich chooses to expand his rotation or give guys a night off to reduce wear-and-tear, it will have more to do with the situation that has presented itself due to light competition than anything related to the Warriors.
As a road favorite of 9.5 or more, the Spurs are a perfect 4-0 straight up and against the spread, beating the Nets, Bucks, Timberwolves and 76ers by a combined margin of 128 points, which includes a 129-68 demolition of Philly but also features wins of 25 or more in the three other games. They take care of business against teams they’re expected to dominate.
Though they failed to cover at home against the Cavs, San Antonio is 8-3 against the number during its current winning streak and 21-8-1 ATS over the last 30 since Nov. 21. While it’s not quite the run Atlanta went on last year, the Spurs have truly been impressive considering they’ve been favored in every single one of those games.
In fact, San Antonio has laid points in every single game this season except for a season-opening loss at Oklahoma City, which is remarkable in its own right. Look for the Warriors to end that streak, since they’ll likely be favored by at least a 3-spot at Oracle, where it hasn’t lost in 19 outings this season entering its Jan. 22 date with Indiana.
Conversely, the Suns have only been favored once in their last 10 games, while the Lakers have only been favored in three games all season. Tony Parker has been dealing with a hip issue, so Pop may take a cautious approach this week to ensure his availability for next Monday. Patty Mills would start if that’s the case. Everyone else is healthy and playing well, so fade them at your own risk. The big number the Spurs will be laying will undoubtedly be tempting, but taking points against them hasn’t paid off yet.
Miami not so hot
A Heat team that saw San Antonio in consecutive NBA Finals is obviously far removed from those days with LeBron James back in Cleveland, but they still fancy themselves a title contender when healthy given the collection of talent Pat Riley did manage to keep in South Florida.
After a fairly strong start that has seen Miami lead the Southeast Division for much of the season, they’ve fallen out of the top spot after a Western road swing that saw them go 2-4 and lose Goran Dragic for a few weeks due to a calf injury. The team is considerably banged up and will be back home for just one game (Jan. 19 vs. Milwaukee) before heading right back out on the road for another five games.
Between Jan. 8 and Feb. 5, the Heat will have played 14 of 16 games on the road, likely defining whether the first half of the season that started so promisingly will wind up being a success. Miami is 8-10 straight up thus far in road games.
Key roadie for Indiana
The Pacers have also had a promising first-half of the season thus far, hitting the 41-game mark at 22-19, which is a positive since they transitioned away from the halfcourt style they had grown so accustomed to in parting ways with Roy Hibbert and David West in the offseason.
Paul George has been a dominant force and has warmed up to his new role, but his Pacers have now lost three consecutive games for the fourth time this season and will look to avoid their longest losing stretch of the season on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
It likely won’t help their cause if center Ian Mahinmi remains out due to an ankle injury and point guard George Hill remains away from the team as he awaits the birth of a new child. After playing the Suns, a four-game road swing continues in Golden State and Sacramento, games in which they’ll likely be underdogs.
Tony Mejia is a national sports writer and senior contributor at VegasInsider.com. He’s also the owner and operator of Antony Dinero, the most successful documented volume handicapper in the industry. View his analysis daily at VegasInsider.com. Email: [email protected].