San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls (-2, 190.5)
Anytime the team with the best record in the NBA by far is an underdog, you have to take a close look. The host Bulls are 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS in their past 10 games. Over that span, the team has won six straight at home and climbed into the discussion for top seed in the Eastern Conference. But is there recent play good enough to trip up the Spurs?
San Antonio is 8-2 SU and ATS over its past 10 games, nine of which have been on the road. Oddsmakers, however, think a road weary Spurs team may decide to fold late against a physical, motivated Bulls team. Spurs coach Greg Popovich already has begun tinkering with his lineup to get players rest, including brining All-Star Manu Ginobili off the bench for the first time this season in a blowout win at Washington last weekend.
“They’re feeling a few bumps and bruises, but they’re character guys,” Popovich told reporters. “They’re professionals, and they know what’s expected of them. They know where they want to be at the end of the year and they’re working towards that. So no game can be left without trying to get better.”
And that’s just the way the Spurs have played this season. San Antonio has yet to mail in a game after nearly four full months of games. As underdogs, the Spurs are a phenomenal 6-1 ATS, always playing more rested or motivated teams close.
Don’t expect Thursday in Chicago to be any different.
Pick: San Antonio
UCLA Bruins at Stanford Cardinal (-1.5, 129)
No team in the Pac 10 is crashing the boards like UCLA. The Bruins have out-rebounded their past 10 opponents and during that stretch the team is a staggering 9-1 SU and 6-3-1 ATS. The recipe for success for UCLA is simple: grab rebounds to grab wins.
Sophomore forwards Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson have been two of the team’s biggest pillars in the paint. Over the team’s past five games—all wins—the duo is are combining to average nearly 20 caroms per contest.
"Honeycutt and Reeves in particular have been really consistent on the glass, and they're two of the best in the league," said UCLA coach Ben Howland. "That's a huge factor going forward."
Stanford, meanwhile, is coming off an 11-point defeat at Washington and has lost six of its past 10 games. Over that stretch, the team has failed to grab more than 30 rebounds five times. The Cardinal also haven’t been very successful against the Bruins lately. UCLA has won seven of the past eight meetings and is 4-3-1 ATS over that span.
“We’ve got to continue to get better,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said.
The Cardinal will get better—just not against the Bruins.