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NBA Betting Report: Play San Antonio Spurs, Fade Portland Trail Blazers

NBA

Despite a series of postponements and a plethora of COVID-19-related issues, in a seeming blink of an eye, we are almost 20 percent of the way through the season. With the games coming at a furious pace, bettors should now be getting a better idea of what the various teams look like, as bigger sample sizes of data also provide a better foundation upon which to build. Let’s take a look at the current form of a couple teams, and why bettors may look to play or fade them in the upcoming days. 

Play: San Antonio Spurs 

With a record of 8-6 SU and 9-5 ATS, the Spurs currently sit atop the Southwest Division. San Antonio is 6-2 over their last eight games, and is coming off a 125-104 blowout win at Portland. This week sets up quite well for the Spurs, as they travel to an improved Golden State team, before taking on an inconsistent and depleted Mavericks team, and then finishing the week with a Sunday matchup against the lowly Wizards. San Antonio’s backcourt of Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan have enhanced their chemistry as the season has gone on. Against Portland, both players dished out 11 assists. DeRozan has shown a substantial degree of adaptability, fitting into San Antonio’s new style of space-and-pace offense, while Murray has been one of the more improved players in the league so far. The Spurs lead the league in AST/TO ratio over the last eight games, and in that time have a phenomenal league-leading TOV% of only 9.2%.  

While much was made of the Spurs’ attempts to speed up the game and increase their scoring, it is quality play on the defensive end of the floor which has keyed their recent uptick in form. San Antonio ranks fourth in the NBA over the last eight games with a defensive rating of 105.6, and in the last four that number is all the way down to 101.8. This should hold the team in good stead over these next three games. The Warriors remain sporadic offensively, and very reliant on Steph Curry. The Mavericks’ have been unable to rediscover their offensive form of a year ago, when they were historically great. Over the last four games, Golden State and Dallas rank 24th and 28th in offensive rating, respectively. The Wizards have played since January 11, and have barely been able to practice. While Washington’s offense ranks sixth this year with an offensive rating of 113.6, the impact of all that time off could knock them down a peg.  

Not much was expected of San Antonio this season, but the team has an interesting blend of veteran leadership and young stars playing better than ever, particularly breakout forward Keldon Johnson. While a division title may be a bridge too far, there’s little to suggest the quality play of the last eight games is a fluke. The Spurs still feel a touch underrated, and bettors should be poised to take advantage this week. 

Fade: Portland Trail Blazers 

Portland has had quite the hard-luck start to this campaign. After an offseason that was largely lauded league-wide, the Trail Blazers were inconsistent out of the gates, starting 3-4 SU as the team struggled to adjust to a new and more aggressive defensive scheme. Then, Portland reeled off four wins in a row, before Jusuf Nurkic suffered yet another long-term injury against Indiana in a 30-point blowout loss. Two games later, C.J. McCollum, who had arguably been the team’s best player to start the season, and was beginning to generate early All-Star buzz, fractured and sprained his foot. He will be re-evaluated in four weeks. Portland has lost two of its three games, and posted a brutal net rating of -14.6 in the process. The team is ranked 29th in the league over that span in both EFG% and TS%.  

The injuries to Nurkic and McCollum are huge, particularly in concert, as they will greatly impact Portland’s ability to score at all levels of the floor. One also has to be concerned with the team’s state of mind. This is a hard enough season as is, and seeing two huge pieces go down so early could be a real blow as the Blazers navigate the condensed schedule. The team play back-to-back games against a Memphis team seemingly going in the other direction. Young leader and blossoming superstar Ja Morant returned to the fold last week, and the Grizzlies went 2-0 SU and ATS in his return, putting up quality wins against Philadelphia and Phoenix. Memphis is 7-6 SU and 8-5 ATS, impressive considering that the team has been beset by a bevy of injuries to begin the year. However, even without Morant, the culture of hard-nosed play and a real feeling of togetherness still permeated throughout the team. Buoyed by Morant’s quicker-than-anticipated return, Memphis look primed to take advantage of a beleaguered Portland group. The Trail Blazers end the week with a Sunday matchup against an over performing New York Knicks team that has seemingly steadied the ship after losing five straight. The Knicks hammered the Celtics and then took care of business on the second day of a back-to-back with a 91-84 win against Orlando.