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THE CELTICS ARE 19-3 THIS YEAR WITH RAJON RONDO PLAYING.
Thu, 27 Jan 2011 04:22 PM EST


SAN ANTONIO SPURS (29-5)

at BOSTON CELTICS (26-7)

Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Boston -2.5, Total: 189.5

It’s a matchup between conference leaders as San Antonio heads to Boston after its four-game winning streak ended in a 128-115 loss in New York Tuesday night. Boston looks to get its third consecutive win, but has only gone 3-3 SU (2-4 ATS) since Orlando snapped its 14-game winning streak on Christmas Day, 86-76. However, all three wins were against teams under .500. Odds.

The Spurs were in an offensive showdown on Tuesday when they allowed the most points all season (128) as the Knicks shot 54.9% from the floor and only committed six turnovers. San Antonio also shot a blistering 53.7% from the floor, and all five starters scored double digits, led by Tony Parker with 26.

However, after trailing most of the game and seemingly looking ahead to the contest against Boston, Gregg Popovich pulled Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker with more than three minutes remaining and only trailing by 10. After their worst defensive performance this season, the Spurs are hoping to be more focused against the reigning Eastern Conference champs.

The injury-laden Celtics welcomed the return of Rajon Rondo in the past two contests after he missed seven games with an injured ankle. Rondo had six points and 16 assists in the 96-93 win over Minnesota on Monday. The Celtics are 19-3 SU this year when Rondo plays, including 10 straight wins with Rondo on the court. Kevin Garnett, Boston’s top rebounder (9.5 RPG), is expected to sit out until mid- to late-January after injuring his knee early in the loss against Detroit on Dec. 29. C Kendrick Perkins (hasn’t played this year) and G Delonte West (6.8 PPG) remain out indefinitely with knee and wrist injuries, respectively.

Injuries aside, the Celtics have shot efficiently over the past five games with a 49.3 FG Pct., but only for a lowly 91.4 points. That’s more than seven points less than their 98.6 PPG season average. While Boston’s top-ranked defense (90.8 PPG) continues to be stellar and is holding opponents to 88.4 points in those five contests.

Boston is an excellent 14-2 at home, but has been unkind to bettors at 6-9-1 ATS and has failed to cover the numbers in the past three home games. San Antonio has also been excellent on the road, losing only its third road game to the Knicks, making it 10-3 SU and 8-4-1 ATS.

San Antonio has won the past two matchups (SU and ATS) at Boston and is 11-2 SU and 9-3-1 ATS in Beantown since 1996. The Spurs have yet to lose two in a row this season thus far, and I think that will hold true after Wednesday’s matchup, making San Antonio my pick to win and cover. These FoxSheets stats also favor San Antonio to cover the spread:

SAN ANTONIO is 28-12 ATS (70.0%, +14.8 Units) after a non-conference game over the last 2 seasons. The average score was SAN ANTONIO 102.2, OPPONENT 94.1 – (Rating = 2*). Scores.

BOSTON is 10-26 ATS (27.8%, -18.6 Units) in home games after playing 2 consecutive games as favorite over the last 2 seasons. The average score was BOSTON 98.2, OPPONENT 95.1 – (Rating = 2*).


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