San Antonio Spurs (31-8 SU, 23-15-1 ATS, 23-16 O/U) vs. Phoenix Suns (12-27 SU, 19-19-1 ATS, 25-14 O/U)
NBA: Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. EST
The Line: San Antonio Spurs -11.5. Total: 213.
The Phoenix Suns will be hoping to halt a two-game losing streak when they go up against the San Antonio Spurs at Mexico City Arena on Saturday. Phoenix is coming off consecutive setbacks at the hands of Cleveland and Dallas. The Spurs bounced back from a home loss to Milwaukee by hammering the Lakers 134-94 on Thursday.
In two head-to-head encounters this season, San Antonio has not endured any real trouble with the the Suns’ youthful energy. In Phoenix on Dec. 15, the Spurs cruised 107-92. They had an even easier time of things at home on Dec. 28, prevailing 119-98. Suns’ head coach Earl Watson’s plan is to push the pace against just about every opponent, but San Antonio had no problem slowing things down and controlling the tempo. Phoenix, which ranks third in the NBA in possessions per 48 minutes at more than 102, did not reach 100 in either outing against the Spurs. San Antonio got 27 points from LaMarcus Aldridge to win the Dec. 28 game by 21 points even without the services of Kawhi Leonard.
“They really got into us physically and did a great job denying passing lanes and really gave themselves a chance to win,” San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich said of the Suns following the second showdown. “I just think our experience kind of took over in the end.”
Run ’em out of the gym
Phoenix is in the midst of an extended stay in Mexico City, having already faced Dallas there on Thursday. The first of two contests south of the border did not end well of the Suns, who lost to the Mavericks 113-108. But that does not mean Watson’s squad is suddenly going to change its strategy. The youngsters want to run, run, and run some more at the expense of an aging Spurs’ roster. Phoenix’s average age per player is 25.1 years old, compared to 28.8 for San Antonio. Four of the Spurs’ top seven rotation players are at least 34.
“We are playing in altitude (7,350 feet) and we’re playing older teams,” Watson said in advance of games with Dallas and San Antonio. “We want to get there, get in, and get used to the altitude and just be ready to run.”
“The Suns are young and they’re game,” Popovich said following his team’s first win over them last month. “They never gave in for a minute. They were tough and they were more physical than us for a whole half. They did a great job. Maybe our experience was showing a little bit on the sides down the stretch.”
The San Antonio Spurs are:
- 13-3 ATS in their last 16 overall
- 5-0 ATS in their last five games against the Western Conference
- 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games against teams with losing records
The Phoenix Suns are:
- 3-13-1 ATS in their last 17 games against the Western Conference
- 1-6 ATS in their last seven games against the Southwest Division
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning percentages over .600
The Suns have the benefit of a Mexico City game already under their belts, but it did not exactly go as planned. A much tougher opponent than Dallas now arrives in the form of San Antonio, which is 2-0 in the head-to-head series so far this season. Popovich’s crew clobbered Phoenix even without Leonard the last time they squared off. The Spurs are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 overall, 5-0 ATS in their last five against the Western Conference, 10-1 ATS in their last 11 against losing opponents, and 4-1 ATS in their last five against the Pacific Division. Phoenix is 3-13-1 ATS in its last 17 against the Western Conference, 1-6 ATS in its last seven against the Southwest Division, and 2-5 ATS in its last seven against opponents with winning percentages over .600. Count on those trends continuing.