At New Orleans
Hornets -3 vs Spurs (183½)
San Antonio opened as a 3½-point dog with the money coming in on the defending NBA champions. The Spurs have the overwhelming edge in playoff experience over the Hornets, though each team finished with identical 60-27 regular season records. The difference is in how they achieved 60 wins. New Orleans was a stellar 54-32 against the spread, while San Antonio was just 40-46.
The marquee matchup will be at point guard between San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Chris Paul of New Orleans. But the series could come down to the center battle of Tim Duncan against Tyson Chandler, who has been a different player since coming over to the Hornets from the Chicago Bulls.
Game 1 is especially big for the young Hornets, who will try to ride the emotions of a sellout crowd starved for a winner in a city still impacted by Hurricane Katrina. A raucous crowd helped Atlanta win three games against Boston and it should work here against a Spurs team that has been blown out in a couple of previous meetings. HORNETS.