San Antonio Spurs (62-29), +3.5, o/u 186.5 vs. New Orleans Hornets (62-29), -3.5, o/u 186.5, New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday
By Oracle at Predictem.com
There’s a reason why home court is so big in the NBA playoffs.
After looking old, tired and just plain awful during the first two games of the series, the San Antonio Spurs were down 0-2 very quickly to the New Orleans Hornets before heading back home to the AT&T Center.
There, the Spurs looked like a completely different squad, handling a Hornets team who beat them by an average of 18.5 points the first two games of the series. San Antonio whooped on New Orleans in both games, including a 100-80 beat down in Game 4, tying the series at 2-2.
But now, it’s the Hornets turn.
They return to their domain in which they’ve shown that they are tough to beat, hence their 30-11 overall home mark on the season.
Although the Hornets looked particularly dreadful the past two games, they are once again the favorites in this contest -3.5, according to most online sportsbooks. That’s the effect of the home court. The over/under opened at 186.5 as well.
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The home team has covered the spread in all four games to date.
Give credit to the defending champion Spurs, whom many thought might be swept after seeing the first two games of the series, as they contained the Hornets offense during a their win Game 4. The New Orleans role players didn’t make a significant impact like they had been, as Peja Stojakovic failed to make a three-pointer, David West struggled from the floo,r and Tyson Chandler didn’t even make a field goal while being in foul trouble for most of the contest.
NBA Coach of the Year Byron Scott said that he wasn’t so worried about the lack of offense his team has produced the past couple of games, but moreso the porous defense, which was one of the overlooked reasons that got them this far.
Tony Parker ate up the Hornets defense, shooting a combined 20-for-36 from the floor for 52 points, while dishing out 19 assists. Their double down defense broke down in Games 3 and 4, as Tim Duncan recorded 22 points, 15 boards and four blocks in Game 4 alone.
Gregg Popovich showed his veteran savvy as a coach, making a couple of major adjustments that proved to do wonders in the last two games, and may prove to be a determining factor in the series outcome.
Popovich inserted NBA 6th Man of the Year Manu Ginobli into the starting lineup for Michael Finley, while switching Bruce Bowen’s defensive assignment from Stojakovic to Chris Paul. Although Paul still got his points and assists (58 and 14) over the last two contests, the role players haven’t been much of a factor because of the defensive switch by Popovich.
Look for San Antonio to stick with the same game plan to try and slow down the Hornets offense, who proved they have a bit of trouble against the Spurs’ half court defense.
The good news for the Hornets and bettors alike is the fact that the home team is 5-0 ATS in the last five overall games when these two squads clash. New Orleans is also used to being the favorite in the playoffs this year and they’ve responded for bettors, posting a perfect 7-0 mark as a favorite of .5 to 4.5 points.
On the flip side, the Spurs haven’t covered great at all as a dog in the playoffs, going just 1-5 ATS in their last six. They’re also 3-13 ATS in their last 16 overall games as a road dog of .5 to 4.5 points.
If bettors aren’t fond of the line for this game, both teams have the over trend, as this one is set at 186.5 heading into tonight’s game. The over is 5-0-1 in the last six playoff games when the Hornets are favorites of .5 to 4.5 points. The over is also 5-1-1 in the last seven games for the Spurs after a straight up win.
This year in particular has a big trend of the home court team winning in the postseason. In fact, out of all the 16 conference semifinal games to this date, the road team (Detroit over Orlando) has won only one game.
Oracle’s Pick: It’s home cooking for the Hornets. They fix their problems and beat the Spurs to take a very big Game 5. Take the Hornets minus the points!