Could Be Final Tim Duncan-LeBron James Matchup Ever Thursday
Some believe that LeBron James might go down in history as the greatest small forward ever in the NBA. Ditto for Tim Duncan among power forward. Thus Thursday’s TNT game in San Antonio is must-see TV because it could be the final time those two future Hall of Famers share the court as the Cavaliers face the Spurs in a potential NBA Finals preview. The game opened as a pick’em at Sportsbook.ag.
This is the final meeting of the regular season for Cleveland and San Antonio and thus the only way they face off again is in June. That exact Finals matchup is priced as the +750 third-favorite at Sportsbook.ag, behind Cavs-Warriors (+300) and Cavs-Thunder (+600). I say this could be the final Duncan-LeBron matchup because Duncan is widely expected to retire after this season. Of course the two squared off in the previous two NBA Finals. James’ Heat won in seven games in 2013, thanks to an epic Game 6 rally. Last year, the Spurs won in five games, which essentially spurred James to leave south Florida for Cleveland.
Duncan’s Elbow OK
Both teams are playing fantastic right now. The Spurs have won six straight. In Tuesday’s 117-107 win over Toronto, Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and 11 rebounds and matched a career high with five steals. It was Leonard’s seventh game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds over the last two seasons. The Spurs have won all seven. The Spurs are beating opponents by nearly 16 points per game in this winning streak and Tony Parker is averaging 20.5 points per game in that run after mostly struggling since December.
Duncan did hyper-extend his elbow late in Tuesday’s game when teammate Tiago Splitter fell into him. It’s not expected to keep Duncan from Thursday’s game. Duncan has played in 58 of 63 games this season and has not missed a game because of injury. He is averaging 29.4 minutes per game, slightly more than last season. Manu Ginobili sat out with a case of gastroenteritis, or an upset stomach, on Thursday. He was sent home from the team’s morning practice session. He came to the AT&T Center and warmed up briefly before he was scratched from the game. Ginobili also is expected to play.
Cavaliers Crushing West
Cleveland destroyed Dallas 127-94 in Big D on Tuesday as all five starters had at least 17 points. LeBron played without his signature headband, and didn’t reveal why, and had 27 points. Cavaliers starters combined for 108 points Tuesday, tied for the second-most by a team’s starters in a game this season (Cleveland scored 113 on Jan. 16 at the Clippers). Cavaliers starters have now scored at least 100 points in a game this season five times; the rest of the league has done it nine times combined.
Cleveland is 12-1 in its last 13 games against Western Conference opponents, outscoring them by an average of 11.2 points per game (108.4-97.2) and outshooting them .470 to .420 over that stretch. San Antonio won 92-90 in Cleveland on Nov. 19. James turned the ball over in the final seconds and struggled from the field with 15 points.
Key betting trends: Cavaliers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 vs. Western Conference. Cavaliers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game. Cavaliers are 15-6 ATS in their last 21 games following a S.U. win. Spurs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games. Spurs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. win. Spurs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
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