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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Sometimes the last day of a regular season is as boring as it gets. That’s actually true over much of the 14-game slate on the NBA’s final night. But, there’s one HUGE game that involves the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans in what could end up being one of the most intense and exciting showdowns all season!

*San Antonio earns the coveted #2 seed in the tightly packed Western Conference race with a victory. Amazing that this team has played so well down the stretch to rise from what might have been a much worse spot. This game matters to the Spurs, and it matters a lot.

*New Orleans earns a playoff berth in the #8 slot with a win because they own a tie-breaker with Oklahoma City. The New Orleans youngsters would love to play in the postseason to let the league know that they’re a real up-and-comer. It is clearly the biggest game this young franchise has ever experienced.

There will certainly be a playoff intensity. Perhaps stronger because New Orleans is bring a “save the season” intensity because they want to keep playing. Great game!

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicators stats have to say about this ideal appetizer to the coming postseason…


Offensive Efficiency

San Antonio: 106.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #7 in the NBA)

New Orleans: 105.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #9 in the NBA)

Both teams are good offensively. Though, be aware that San Antonio has been even better than their overall ranking since the Al-Star Break. They’ve obliterated many lesser teams, and are peaking at just the right time. New Orleans is much better offensively than many in the media realize. Their slow overall pace hides what happens on a per-possession basis. We talked about that issue a lot during college basketball. The Pelicans have some weapons and use them efficiently.


Defensive Efficiency

San Antonio: 99.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #3 in the NBA)

New Orleans: 104.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #22 in the NBA)

Huge difference here. And, the main reason why San Antonio is once again a true championship threat while New Orleans is still a long way away from championship discussions. The Spurs have always been better on this end of the floor than realized. Tim Duncan is a quiet force in the paint. Everyone focuses on their beautifully run offense rather than their disruptive defense. For New Orleans, slow pace has created the illusion of defense (similar to a few Dance teams). Anthony Davis is a great shot-blocker…but the team as a whole is surprisingly vulnerable. If you’re smart, you can get good looks against them. It’s now a smart league! Big edge to the Spurs on this side of the floor. (And, be sure you’re smarter than broadcasters who say that New Orleans is a great defensive team that needs help on offense. They’re being tricked by pace…New Orleans is a good offensive team that’s surprisingly bad on defense!)


Pace Ranking

San Antonio: #17

New Orleans: #27

San Antonio is around league average, which means they’re comfortable at any pace. New Orleans is one of the slowest franchises in the 30-team league. That’s okay for playoff style basketball. But, in this case, we’re talking about a team with a poor defense stuck in a halfcourt game against a very smart and talented opposing offense! Very tough matchup for the Pelicans. They will need to bring peak intensity on both ends of the floor and hope the Spurs are off a little bit shooting-wise.


Against the Spread

San Antonio: 41-38-2

New Orleans: 44-37

The Spurs have used an extended rally to get back to break even for the season counting vigorish. They’ve been very hot since the All-Star Break. New Orleans was underrated by the markets entering the season…and that’s still true down the stretch. The Unibrow era is advancing faster than the market expected.

JIM HURLEY will definitely be focusing on this high profile game for serious play Wednesday. The full team of handicapping experts, sources, scouts, statheads, computer programmers, and Wise Guys will be chiming in with their thoughts. There’s a chance a sleeper or two elsewhere on the card will get into the mix as well. You can always purchase the BEST BETS on the board right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Remember to ask about extended packages that take you through the NBA Championships in June or baseball’s All-Star Break (and beyond).

We’ll be back with you Friday to begin our daily series previews for the NBA Playoffs. The postseason officially begins Saturday. We’ll devote one day apiece over eight days for each of the eight first round matchups. Then, at that point, we’ll pick the marquee game each night until the first round is complete. Generally speaking, it’s going to be daily NBA from Friday through May. If an off-day pops up in the playoffs because a lot of series ended early…then we’ll squeeze in some baseball articles to prepare you for an important series or a high profile TV game.

MARCH MADNESS was a lot of fun. Now it’s time for the big boys to determine a champion. Given the extremely high level of play seen from the likes of San Antonio, Golden State, Cleveland, and even Atlanta…this could be a postseason that fans and bettors will be talking about for ages.

Look for helpful handicapping tips here in the NOTEOOK, and hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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