The NBA second-half schedules are out, and teams are entering the homestretch. For the San Antonio Spurs, it almost feels like things are getting back to the way they should be.
The silver and black aren’t pushing for a one or two seed, but in contrast to recent years, they aren’t pushing just to stay above .500 at the moment either, as the NBA pauses for the All-Star Game. They actually find themselves positioned to return to the postseason. When play resumes, seven of their next 13 games will be against teams that wouldn’t qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today. More importantly, they will resume the season against the Dallas Mavericks, who are currently one seed behind the Spurs at eighth. The team is also just seven games behind the first-place Utah Jazz.
So what does this all mean?
Not to get too crazy here, but if you’re looking at NBA odds to win it all, you may not get a better shot than now on the Spurs. At +3600, San Antonio is tied with the Golden State Warriors for the eighth-best chance of winning the NBA Finals of Western Conference teams, not far behind Mavericks and the Portland Trailblazers both at +3000.
With the ease of the Spurs’ schedule after the break, action might start moving to the team’s outlook being more favorable, should the team win the games they’re supposed to. If you were to get action on the Spurs for just $5 at these odds, a title could pay out $18,000. If the Spurs beat the Mavericks and go on a bit of a run, should that line move to +3000 for San Antonio, the potential winnings would drop $3,000 just like that. Wait a little bit longer till the trade deadline, and improvements to the team could hurt even more.
If you’ve had a hard time gauging teams this season, buckle up, because as the season turns the corner, another element will be added back to the game – Fans. What will be really interesting in the second half of the season is how fans will impact the game on the court. So far, players have been just playing for each other, generating their own noise and excitement on the bench. How many wins is a crowd worth at home or on the road? Where some fan bases may once have traveled, now they may elect not to or be otherwise unable to.
Teams that are playing well at home tend to play better in general, but a number of teams are performing well on the road, but are close to .500 on their home court. Using the Spurs as an example here, they are 9-10 at home in the AT&T Center, yet 9-4 on the road. There’s been much talk about the focused environment when on the road, with no opportunities to tour the cities they visit. Will that focus be enough to counter another team’s home crowd and keep things rolling on the road? More importantly, can the home crowd in San Antonio help the team back to a winning record in the Alamo City?
The one thing about the playoffs is you first have to make it to the dance. Get hot and get there, and anything can happen. As we approach the back-half of the season, it’s almost a whole new game, and hard to predict, and there could be some surprises. Where so much can happen down the stretch, there could be decent value for any team, like the Spurs, who have long odds to win it all in another weird season, and could massively pay out for very little risk.