Phoenix Suns (51-26), +6, o/u 199.5 vs. San Antonio Spurs (53-24), -6, o/u 199.5, AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas, 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday
By Oracle of Predictem.com
With both the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs, you’d think they don’t have much to play for when they clash on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center in the second game of an NBA doubleheader on ESPN.
Nevertheless, it’s the exact opposite.
The Spurs are currently second in the Western Conference playoff standings. They’re just one game back of New Orleans, who they are also chasing in the Southwest Division. Garnering a No. 1 seed for the playoffs means playing a team like Golden State or Denver instead of a team like Dallas if they were to hold down the two-seed.
At the same time, the Phoenix Suns are still in the hunt for a top seed in the crazy Western Conference playoff jumble, which likely won’t be determined until the very last day of the regular season. They’re also right outside the cusp of having home court advantage in the first round.
Phoenix is just 2 games behind New Orleans and one game behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division.
So unlike Eastern teams such as Detroit and Boston, who have their seeds already locked in place, neither the Suns nor the Spurs will be resting any players for the final stretch run of the season.
Most online sportsbooks opened this game with the Spurs as -6 favorites with an over/under total of 199.5.
The Suns had somewhat of a tough time taking down Memphis last night, and traveling to San Antonio on back-to-back nights won’t be an easy task. To top it all off, Shaquille O’Neal sat out last night’s game with a nagging hip injury, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be unavailable for tonight’s game.
San Antonio, meanwhile, is well rested, no having played since their win over Portland on Sunday, and they’re also a blistering 32-6 at home.
Shaq played a huge role in his team’s 94-87 win over San Antonio in early March, their second victory in three games against the Spurs this season. O’Neal scored 14 points, grabbed 16 boards and blocked two shots. He also held Tim Duncan to just 6-of-19 shooting, which is a huge reason why Shaq was brought into Phoenix by GM Steve Kerr.
If the Suns were to play the Spurs without the services of their future Hall of Fame center, they’ll have to rely on the likes of Boris Diaw and Brian Skinner to handle Duncan. San Antonio will take that match up any day of the week.
Although Phoenix is first in field goal and three-point percentage in the league, the under has come in all three games when matched up against the Spurs. In fact, these two squads haven’t combined for more than 195 points in any of those games.
The Spurs, as usual, have one of the best defenses in the league, anchored by Duncan. They also picked up the invaluable services of Kurt Thomas, who is stellar on the defensive side of the ball, making it hard for teams to score in the paint.
A trend for bettors features the under coming in five out of the last six meetings between these to Western Conference powers.
San Antonio has won nine of their last 10 overall games and has covered the spread in seven of those contests. They’re also 4-1 ATS in their last five home games.
The Suns have a lot more negative trends then they do positive as of late. They’re just 36-38-3 ATS on the year. They’re 0-5 ATS in their last five road games as a dog.
The fact that Phoenix played in Memphis last night and has to travel to San Antonio may play a huge factor in betting on this game. In fact, they’re just 0-4-1 ATS in the second game of playing back-to-back nights.
There is one last trend that bettors need to factor in. The underdog is 4-1-1 in the last six head-to-head games between these two squads, which is good new for the Suns.
Since the NBA season is coming to a close, every one of these games makes a huge difference in the standings. One of these squads will help their playoff standings while the other takes a step back.
Oracle’s Pick: Trap line alert! San Antonio wins and covers tonight easily.