Fri, Apr 7, 2:55pm by Staff Writer
It’s a big weekend for the Spurs with the Texas rivalry back on against the Mavericks in Dallas before they host the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers.
American Airlines Centre, Dallas – Saturday 8 April 10.30am AEST
TV: Live on ESPN
The last time these two sides met in January the Mavericks were able to pull off a surprise upset win (105-101). The pressure is on the Spurs heading into the playoffs, and they will be keen to avoid back-to back losses after going down to the Lakers earlier in the week.
Spurs coach Greg Popovich opted to rest Kawhi Leonard and La Marcus Aldridge during the second half in the loss to the Lakers and the Spurs are still without starter Danny Green who is struggling with quad injury. With questions marks over the fitness of veteran Manu Ginobili, and second spot in the West sewn up the Spurs won’t be taking any risks with their starters in the first of this double header.
The Mavs were bullied earlier in the week with a tough loss (112-101) to the Clippers. Harrison Barnes led the scoring with 15 points, while veteran forward Dirk Nowitzki had nine-points after coming back from an Achilles injury. Guard Seth Curry is battling a shoulder injury and is struggling to regain fitness for this game.
The Mavs will want to make an impression over the final four games in the regular season, and look for some solid output from Barnes.
If history is a guide, then it will be the Spurs who will be first over the line. It’s hard to imagine the Spurs losing back-back this close to the playoffs, but stranger things have happened this season.
Look for the Spurs forwards to catch the Mavs on the fast break. For Aussie fans, Patty Mills could see some more court time. I’m tipping the Spurs to come good and edge the Mavericks for the win.
Clippers @ Spurs
AT&T Centre, San Antonio – Sunday 9 April 10.30pm
TV: Live on ESPN
When it comes to resting your stars, the question is who will blink first? Clippers coach Doc Rivers will loathe the idea of giving Blake Griffin some downtime after the All-Star forward missed a good chunk of the season already.
The Spurs have a lock on second position in the Western conference, while the Clippers will be hungry to move up the seedings, and avoid the Dubs in the first round.
The Clippers were back to their best with a strong win over the Mavericks earlier in the week. Griffin dominated the front court with 32 points and DeAndre Jordan dominated the paint with 20 rebounds.
Who Popovich plays off the quick back-up is a tough choice Kahwi Leonard and La Marcus Aldridge hold the key to the Spurs hopes, and the match-up between Leonard and Griffin should decide the outcome of this match-up.
The Spurs will be looking to fine-tune their game before the playoffs, and could possibly look to give their bench rotation some court time.
The markets will be released on Saturday after the Mavs match, but the Spurs should start favourite despite losing two of their past three matches off the one-day back-up.
With a lot of questions over the Spurs line-up the Clippers would be looking to take advantage.
The Clippers have had the wood over the Spurs in the regular season, leading 2-1 and have more to play for, with fourth seeding in the Western Conference within touching distance. I’m tipping the Clippers to get across the line in a close win.
BEST BET: Clippers to win
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