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Reply To: NBA • Monday Service Plays • 3/14/16

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Iguodala injury has big meaning for bettors heading into second Warriors-Spurs clash
By BIG AL MCMORDIE

We’re five days away from the second meeting of the season between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors’ 30-point win in the first meeting may have taken some luster off this next game, but it shouldn’t.

The Spurs still rank as the league’s best team in margin of victory (12.24) and they’ve won 41 regular season home games in a row – the 3rd-best streak in NBA history. Meanwhile, Golden State needs to win to remain on pace to break the Bulls’ record for wins in a season. Of course, there are 54 other games on tap for this week, so let’s see what’s on the horizon.

Spread Watch

When Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol, sustained his season-ending injury in the game versus Portland on Feb. 8, Memphis’s season surely looked bleak. The Grizzlies were 30-22 at the time, but had been outscored by 1.28 points per game and down their all-star center, many expected Memphis to possibly even fall out of the playoff picture all together.

But a curious thing has happened in its 14 games since. Memphis has gone 9-5 straight up and 10-4 against the spread, while averaging 104 ppg (compared to 97.9 ppg while Gasol was healthy). Of course, the increase in Memphis’ offensive production could just be a by-product of a faster pace of play initiated by coach Dave Joerger. The numbers, though, say otherwise. The Grizzlies’ offensive efficiency was ranked 22 at the time Gasol went down, but has been in the Top 10 since. Dating back to January 25, Memphis is an impressive 14-7 SU and 15-6 ATS, including four upset wins.

Memphis will be an underdog on Monday night at defensively-challenged Houston, which gives up 107 ppg. Then, on Wednesday, it will be back home to host the Timberwolves, who give up 103.9 ppg. Surely, the Grizzlies are worth a look in each of those games, as they’re 20-4 SU and 17-7 ATS this season against teams that give up at least 103.9 ppg.

Total Watch

Kawhi Leonard missed three games with a calf injury following the All-Star Break. The Spurs gave up 105, 113 and 111 in those games. Since his return, the San Antonio has given up 99 points or less in nine of 10 games and in the lone game they allowed an opponent to reach 100, it took a meaningless Nikola Mirotic 3-pointer with three seconds left for the Bulls to score 101.

San Antonio’s allowed just 90.1 ppg in its last 10 games, and eight of the 10 have gone Under the total. This week, the Spurs will host the Clippers, Trail Blazers and Warriors. Their previous meeting against all three opponents went Under and their game on Tuesday vs. Los Angeles, in particular, looks to be the best candidate for a low-scoring game. The Clippers scored just 90 on Sunday versus Cleveland and the Under is 17-5-1 since January 22.

Injury Watch

Golden State forward Andre Iguodala hurt his ankle in last Friday’s win against Portland, and will miss upwards of four weeks. Along with Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, Iguodala is one of the Warriors’ three best defensive players and Golden State will struggle without him in the lineup. Indeed, Iguodala’s missed five games this season, and the Warriors are 0-5 ATS in those games and they’ve failed to cover by a whopping average of 14.1 ppg.

That doesn’t bode well for the Warriors this week against the Pelicans, Knicks, Mavericks and especially the Spurs. Interestingly, when the Spurs and Warriors first met this season, it was the Spurs who were without one of their two best defensive players (Tim Duncan).

Speaking of Duncan, Golden State has lost all 32 regular season road games versus the Spurs since he came into the league (and 34 of 35 road games when playoffs are included). Additionally, the Warriors are a dreadful 10-22 ATS in those 32 regular season games, including 1-6 ATS if the Spurs were playing with revenge.

Schedule Watch

The Boston Celtics will resume play on Tuesday, at Indiana, after getting the previous three days off. The Celtics won, 103-94, at home versus the Pacers in the last meeting, and are 23-16 SU and 25-14 ATS against them over the last 11 seasons.

This season, NBA teams are 40-29 ATS when playing with at least 3 days’ of rest against a less-rested opponent, including 12-0 ATS since January 18 against a revenge-minded foe and a perfect 9-0 ATS since Feb. 23 (against any opponent).

Boston’s played excellent basketball over the previous two months, as it’s 20-8 SU and 17-11 ATS. They’re also 7-1 SU/ATS its last eight versus winning teams. I look for Boston to upset Indiana.