-Sense of Urgency: How important is this game to each team? With 82 game seasons, you simply can’t be motivated to play all 82 games like they are game 7 of the NBA finals. Depending on various circumstances, some teams may come out with less hunger for victory. If a team that is viewed as a playoff contender is struggling over the last few games, I tend to watch them a bit closer to see if and when it could be time for a major turnaround. The San Antonio Spurs are a great example of that in my opinion.
The Spurs are at the Washington Wizards tonight, and are favored by 2.5 points (-2.5) on Bovada at this moment in time around 12:30PM ET. The Spurs last played Monday at Dallas while the Wizards last played Sunday at Orlando.
The Spurs are 5-9, 1-5 on the road, while the Wizards are 3-8, with a 1-3 home record. First thing we can see is that the Spurs have played 3 more games already. That can be a good thing, and a bad thing, to a certain extent, depending on how you look at it. On one side, with a few more games under their belt, you could argue the Spurs have better team chemistry on the court and could be in a slightly better rhythm. On the other end, having played more games, there are simply more chances to get nicked up and bruised, the health of the team could be less than optimal compared to the Wizards. Point blank, this is a game the Spurs have to win. This is a team that makes the playoffs every season and wins 50+ a year in their sleep. The Wizards know they are not making any noise this season so the desperation factor will not quite be as high for them in my opinion, but I certainly don’t expect it to be a cakewalk for the Spurs. When I evaluate two teams I have gotten into the habit of writing out each starting lineup and bench rotation side by side, making adjustments throughout the day depending on injury updates. From a roster and coaching standpoint, I think the Spurs have the clear advantage. Gregg Popovich is one of the best to ever do it and they come into this game relatively healthy for the most part. The Wizards are of course without their star guard, John Wall, for what looks to be the entire year. Bradley Beal has to carry this team and hope for random contributors to chip in every night to even compete, let alone bring home a W. This roster has not played together consistently enough for me to believe this team can put together enough offensive production against a desperate Spurs team to lose by less than a 3 point field goal. The Spurs will be without their backup point guard, Derrick White, for this game, but I don’t believe that has a major impact on this game considering Patty Mills is still alive and well. The Spurs bench even without White is the better unit and has great familiarity at the very least. The Wizards started Isaac Bonga and Ish Smith for the first few games of the season before turning to Isaiah Thomas and Troy Brown Jr. Switching up the starting lineup along with adding a bench contributor to the rotation off of injury in CJ Miles has got the Wizards still working to find their way as a team, which often leads to inconsistent play on both ends. Factoring in the general lack of overall talent outside of Bradley Beal, this one doesn’t look good for the Wiz Kids. These two teams have actually played already, with the Spurs winning a close one at home by 2 points. In that game, Davis Bertans came off the bench against his former team to go 7-7 shooting, 5-5 from 3, to score a whopping 23 points in what was almost sweet revenge (that’s another factor, some players want revenge on their former teams!). So, is Bertans going to go off on his former team again? Or is another supporting cast member going to step up and help Beal out? I’m betting against that. And I’m betting that a desperate Spurs team coming off a day of rest will be wanting to get back to their winning ways as they try to put themselves in position to return to the playoffs. You have to pick your spots when taking road favorites, and I think this is a great spot for the Spurs @ -2.5.