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JEFF ALLEN GAME PREVIEW: SPURS at JAZZ

JEFF ALLEN GAME PREVIEW: SPURS at JAZZ
 
The San Antonio Spurs are six games into their annual “Rodeo Road Trip” that generally sees them play eight or nine games away from home while the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is in town. This is a usually a death march that generally sees them cross country at least twice. In 2003, the team set an NBA record by going 8-1 on a nine game trip. This year, the Spurs were fortunate enough to have the trip broken up by the NBA All-Star game which will also mean that the Spurs will go 24 days between home game. So far … so good as the Spurs have gone 5-1 with suitcase. They have been burning tickets however failing to cover four of their last five. Tonight they meet the Utah Jazz, a team on the come that is currently battling Portland, Dallas and Houston for one of the final three playoff spots in the West. The line at this writing is San Antonio -3.5 with the total pending on news of several Spurs players with minor dings.
 
If it wasn’t for the Golden State Warriors, we’d be talking about the 48-9 Spurs. Their record is even more remarkable when you consider that the team has gone stretches of games without key players like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and most recently Kawhi Leonard who is questionable tonight with a calf problem. The ex-San Diego State star (20.2, 6.7, 2.4) leads the team in scoring and is a lock down defender and who is transitioning into the new face of the franchise. LaMarcus Aldridge (16.7, 8.6) was the top free agent pickup of the summer and he’s transitioned nicely into the Pop system. Tony Parker is still rock solid at the point.
 
The Jazz were a team on the come last year, finishing with a big second half run and leading the NBA in defense after the break. Utah’s “growth” has been stalled somewhat by numerous injuries, particularly to big man Rudy Gobert (10.2, 10.4). The team plays so much better with Gobert in the lineup and Rodney Hood (15.0, 3.3, 2.7) running the show from the point. This is a team with a wealth of young talent, a couple of which (Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors) that are knocking on the door of becoming very good if not elite players. Figure on the Jazz making the playoffs this year and making noise in the coming years.
 
Both teams are playing well. The Spurs overall have won nine of ten and but are just 1-4 the way we keep score in their last five. The Jazz have won five straight at home and are 5-2 L7 as a home dog. The Spurs have won eight of the last ten in the series, the over is 5-2 in the L7. An interesting spot angle here. The Spurs won last night in Sacramento and have won 11 games in the second of back-to-backs. They are 7-4 ATS in those 11 games but are 0-4 in their L4 after covering the first seven. A play on San Antonio money line might be in order.

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