December 18th, 2015 (3:00 PM ET)
NOTE: Two college picks were released yesterday, in advance, for Saturday's bowl games!
1) Take the UNDER 195 total points in LA Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an interesting and high profile game tonight between two of the best teams in the Western Conference as the LA Clippers travel to take on the San Antonio Spurs. This is a matchup that immediately stood out to us; not because of the line set by the oddsmakers but because of the Total! This is by far the lowest total set in a meeting between these two teams in recent history. Over the last 11 meetings, the total had not been set below 202.5 and there is no doubt the betting public has taken notice to the 'unusually' low total in this contest are pounding the Over, expecting a high scoring, offensive shootout. We believe they will be sorely mistaken in this contest.
The San Antonio Spurs are the best defensive team in league this year and at home they have been lights out on that end, allowing an average of just 86.1 points per contest! There is no question that the core of the Spurs roster has been aging. Guys like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan are no longer the offensive superstars that they once were and Gregg Popovich has evolved his team knowing just that. They may not be able to get the kind of offensive production form them that he once did, but has since molded their style of game to be more of a defensive minded style and it has certainly been paying off as his new defensive mindset has held opponents to just 41.5% shooting from the floor at home this season! Tim Duncan was rested in the last game so he can be fresh for this one and while his offensive production has dipped, he is still averaging 1.4 blocks per game and is a defensive presence.
Meanwhile Doc Rivers has adopted a similar philosophy with his LA Clippers team and has been emphasizing solid defensive play. The fact that Rivers has been experimenting with lineups and has a player like Luc Mbah a Moute regularly starting games instead of more offensively capable options like Lance Stephenson or Paul Piece shows his commitment and emphasis to solid defense and what he expects from his players! Much like their opponents the Clippers are currently holding their opponents to just 43.2% shooting from the field. There are also other players in this matchup like David West and DeAndre Jordan whose contributions come much more from their skills on defense than what they each bring to the table offensively for their respective clubs.
Both clubs have solid rebounders that should limit second chance opportunities tonight and have defenders who are excellent in one on one coverage. If the referees allow both teams to play their games and do not call an absurd amount of 'soft' fouls in this contest, we believe the oddsmakers have gotten this one right and the total will stay Under in what will be a lower scoring game than most anticipate. The Spurs want revenge for last year's playoff exit at the hands of these Clippers and should flex their muscle defensively once again as they have all season!
2) Take Brooklyn Nets at +10 spread against Indiana Pacers for 3% of the bankroll.
These two clubs are heading in opposite directions but that alone isn't enough to warrant a double-digit spread. The Nets are determined to bounce back and get a W after dropping 3 in a row while the Pacers could be caught in two minds as they have had to prepare for back-to-back games on consecutive nights which even includes heading out on the road. Tomorrow night, they head to Memphis to play the bruising Grizzlies and Frank Vogel will no doubt keep that in mind as he limits the minutes of certain players. One such case could be SG Monta Ellis who is dealing with a sore knee and is questionable to play. The Pacers may give him the night off so he can be closer to 100% tomorrow when they take on Gasol and the Grizzlies! Let's not forget that Memphis vs. Indiana was the regular season finale last year as both took the court with playoff implications at that time and it was the Eastern conference team that suffered heartbreak. The Pacers may have one eye on Saturday's game and that won't help them cover such a big spread!
The Brooklyn Nets are in all likelihood not going to make the playoffs this year but they're not the punching bag that the 76ers are! This is still a team with solid veteran players like Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Jarrett Jack and Thaddeus Young among others. They are a proud group and have been competitive in many of their games this season. That's why despite an ugly 7-18 record on the season, they actually have NOT been a bad team to back against the spread, having covered the number 14 times in 25 games! Lionel Hollins' side has fallen short of clinching the win consistently but they have kept games close and cashed out plenty of tickets for those brave enough to back them. We believe this is another similar situation as they face a hot team that is laying a few more points than they should. We handicapped this game at Pacers -8 and yet they are laying double-digits! That gap is where the value is. Indiana has won its last 2 games easily by 15+ points and while impressive, such outings are often followed by a lackluster performance. They should still have enough in them to pull out a W tonight but we wouldn't be surprised if they weren't at their best and this one was closely contested.
Indiana may well win this game but asking them to do so by double-digits is an entirely different ask. Especially when they have to save their energy for tomorrow's road trip as well. The Nets on the other hand are solely focused on this contest and will do everything they can to snap their 3-game skid! While we believe they will ultimately come up short in the closing minutes, they should stay within this generous point-spread. Whether it's through staying competitive or through a backdoor cover when Vogel pulls out his troops in the 4th qwuarter and puts the fringe players in, look for Brooklyn to cash out sharp tickets tonight. Brooklyn doesn't have great depth off the bench but their starting five are solid players that can keep them in this game. And having had a day of rest yesterday and having one again tomorrow, that allows this group of 5 to get extended minutes tonight. Bogdanovic and Johnson are streaky shooters and are hard to stop when they get going. If Brooklyn can get good contribution from Andrea Bargnani off the bench tonight, they should keep it within single-digits.
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