San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Hornets Preview and Pick – 29152

San Antonio Spurs +2.5 (15-8) at New Orleans Hornets -2.5 (14-7) O/U 185.5 9:30 PM ET Wednesday December 17, 2008 on ESPN
By Jason Green at

Tonight the Spurs travel to the Big Easy to play the New Orleans Hornets in a big early season Southwest Division match up. Could these teams be any more even right now? Take a look: both teams are in 1st place in the Southwest Division (along with the Rockets), the Spurs are 7-3 at home and the Spurs are 7-3 on the road, and both teams are 8-2 in their last 10 games. At least their 2 uniforms could not be any more different. The Hornets have won 4 in a row and the Spurs have won 2 in a row. First place in the division is at stake and this may be a preview of a late round playoff match up in the Western Conference playoffs.

The Spurs have won 6 of their last 7 on the road and the Hornets have won 4 straight home games.

Online bookies have the Hornets as 2.5 point favorites with a total around 185.5. The Hornets are posted at -130 as home favorites and the Spurs are posted at +110 as road dogs.

The Hornets come into this game after beating the Memphis Grizzlies 91-84 last night. The high scorers for the Hornets in that game were Chris Paul and David West both going for 18 points. For the game the Hornets shot 26-62 from the floor for a FG% of 41.9%. On defense the Hornets allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 33/69 from the floor for a FG% of 47.8%.

The Spurs come into this game after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 109-104 on Monday night. The high scorer for the Spurs in that game was Tony Parker going for 22 points on 9/18 shooting. For the game the Spurs shot 41-80 from the field for a FG% of 51.3%. On defense the Spurs allowed the Thunder to shoot 44/85 for a FG% of 51.8%.

Neither team is a high scoring one, as the Spurs rank 17th (97.4 ppg) and the Hornets rank 21st (96.7 ppg). Both teams have a FG% over 46% and a 3 point FG% of over 40%. On defense these are 2 of the better teams in the league, as the Hornet rank 3rd (92.4 ppg) and the Spurs rank 6th (94 ppg) and both teams have a rebounding differential of around +1 rpg.

This season the Spurs are 12-11 ATS and the Hornets are 9-10-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Spurs are 10-15 and the Hornets are 9-12.

On the injury front C Tyson Chandler is day-to-day for the Hornets, while the Spurs are reporting no significant injuries.

The key match up in this game will be between, arguably, the 2 best point guards in the game with Chris Paul (19.8 ppg) and Tony Parker (21.3 ppg). Both can score and dish out the pill and how they play D on each other will have an important outcome of this game. In last night’s game Paul recorded a steal in his 105th straight contest, tying Alvin Robertson’s NBA record and tonight he will go for the record.

Bruce Bowen is a defensive whiz and he will have to contain David West (20.3) and if he does the Spurs have a great chance to win this game.

Both teams can flat out shoot the rock from the outside, so each team has to play good perimeter D. Overall the Spurs have to play good D, as The Hornets are averaging 106.0 points and shooting 50% from the floor during their 4-game home winning streak, during which they’ve outscored opponents by an average of 15 points per game.

Tim Duncan creates a match up problem for the Hornets, and every other team in the NBA, and if he is scoring down low and controlling the boards the Spurs can score an upset in this game. Tyson Chandler is banged up, but he will have to be big on the glass tonight and not let the Spurs have too many 2nd chance points.

Even though the Spurs have won 2 in a row they have not looked impressive in beating a couple of cellar dwellers. Even though this game is an early season one each team can send a message to the other with a win.

Jason’s Pick: I like the Spurs to nail one down on the road tonight.