The San Antonio Spurs may have had big wins against the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets recently, and started a win streak with an overtime win over the Sacramento Kings without LaMarcus Aldridge, but the Spurs’ chances to be a contender in the Western Conference seem to continue dwindling.
The Western Conference futures continue to be a two-horse race between the Clippers (+180) and Lakers (+190), with only the high-ceiling Rockets (+480) given more than a puncher’s chance. Despite finally showing signs of life by winning three of four, Gregg Popovich’s Spurs lag near the bottom at +13200, a steep drop from where they started the season (+4300).
While beating Houston and LAC at home inspires some confidence, they are 2-8 on the road and are highly unlikely to have home-court in any playoff series and one can expect their odds to decrease. That’s why it can be beneficial to do your homework prior to betting, these sportsbooks online have lower juice for spreads, which can really make a difference when compared to other sites.
Popovich will be looking to increase those chances and has been shuffling his lineups quite a bit lately. He is now starting Derrick White and Jakob Poeltl. While White hasn’t made an immediate impact of Dejounte Murray, Poeltl has been making his mark on the defensive end.
He has been a shot-blocking menace lately and his rim protection was big against James Harden and the Rockets lately. He also stuffed his share of Kawhi Leonard’s shots. Aside from his work on the defensive end, Poeltl has been setting effective screens and has excelled as a rim-runner, allowing him to get easy opportunities at the basket.
Aside from those moves, Popovich has also been giving second-year swingman Lonnie Walker IV a minutes bump lately as he has been coming in as the backup small forward. His athleticism and defense were a big part of why the Spurs were able to close the gap in the fourth quarter against Houston.
It’ll be interesting to see how he does moving forward. Murray is now off a minutes restriction and he had a solid outing against the Kings. While he’d obviously prefer to start, he adds a different wrinkle to the Spurs’ second unit and the lineup with him, Patty Mills and Walker presents some interesting opportunities for a faster-paced offense that could be fun to watch in transition.
The Spurs’ schedule gets a bit easier with games against Cleveland and Phoenix next, but then they see the Rockets and Clippers yet again in a three-game span.