New Orleans Hornets (62-27), +6.5, o/u 183 @ San Antonio Spurs (60-29), -6.5, o/u 183, AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas, 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Thursday
By Oracle at Predictem.com
It’s not often a team can say that they have the upper hand against the defending NBA Champions.
But that’s exactly the situation that the New Orleans Hornets find themselves in when they travel to San Antonio to play the Spurs on Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
By taking the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals, the Hornets can virtually end the Spurs’ season if they are able to sneak a win out of San Antonio. New Orleans hasn’t been intimidated by the defending champs all year long, as they’ve now won four out of the six head-to-head meetings this season.
Not only did New Orleans win both home games to start the series, they dominated the Spurs in every sense of the word. The Hornets beat up on San Antonio, who seems to be showing their age late in the post-season, by an average margin of 18.5 points.
As the favorites, the Hornets easily covered the -3 line in both games. The over/under was at 183 for both contests and went over once and pushed in Game 1.
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For Thursday contest, the over/under opened up exactly the same 183. This time around, though, San Antonio is the favorite -6.5 to open up.
The Spurs actually led at halftime in both games, but both times the second half in particular the third quarter they’ve shown vulnerability.
In Game 2, with the Spurs leading by one at the half, New Orleans busted out of the locker room with a 10-0 run, including three-pointers by none other than Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson. At the end of the period, they doubled up San Antonio, 36-18.
The defense of New Orleans has been phenomenal. Tim Duncan got off just 11 shots in the second game and was just 1-of-9 in the first game, as he’s been double-teamed virtually every time he has touched the ball. His teammates haven’t helped him out much, either, as they haven’t shot any better than 42% in either game.
The pressure defense of the Hornets have also made the Spurs offense settle for three-point shots, something that isn’t their forte. San Antonio was just 8-for-27 from distance in Game 2, and they also attempted 31 triples in Game 1.
Chris Paul has led the charge of the Hornets offense, averaging 23.5 points and 12.5 assists in the first two games of the series. David West scored 30 points in Game 1 to lead the team, while role players such as Tyson Chandler (13 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) and Stojakovic (23.5 points) have come up huge throughout the first couple games.
There is some injury news to know before betting on this game, as Manu Ginobli reportedly is going to try and play through a sore ankle in Thursday’s contest.
Bettors may be asking why the Spurs are such big favorites after getting annihilated the first two games. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four head-to-head meetings with these two squads. The favorite is also 9-4 ATS in the last 13 overall meetings.
The Hornets have beaten San Antonio at the AT&T Center once already this season, and they’re 4-1 ATS against the Spurs in the last five contests.
These two squads are known for their pressure defense, so it may be a bit of a surprise to bettors to see the over with a 7-3 record in the last 10 head-to-head games. However, the under is 5-0-1 for New Orleans in their last six playoff games as a dog.
The Spurs know they have to hold down the fort if they want a chance against the Hornets. They’re hoping they can find some youthful exuberance that’ll keep this series interesting.
Oracle’s Pick: The Spurs will come out ready to avenge to bad losses. Expect a double digit win tonight at the Alamo.