San Antonio (45-8) at LA Clippers (35-18)
When: Thursday, February 18th 2016
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 10:35 ET | TV: TNT
The San Antonio Spurs resume their quest for the West’s top seed when they open the second half in Los Angeles against the Clippers. San Antonio sits 3.5 games behind Golden State for the top spot and feel that its important since both them and the Warriors are perfect at home this year. The Spurs ended the first half winning their last six including impressive road wins in Dallas and Miami. The best defense in the NBA found some offense leading up to the break scoring over their 105 point average in six of the last eight games. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge have both caught fire on the offensive end. The All-Star Leonard has recorded five-straight 20-point outings and is averaging 24.1 in that span. Aldridge ended play before the break on a roll with six 20-point outings in an eight-game span. He’s averaging 24.1 points and 60.2% from the field during the stretch and is averaging 17 points overall after a slow start to the season. Aldridge has worked through the transition period upon leaving Portland to join the Spurs and is now fitting in much better with his teammates. The Spurs are on their longest road trip of the season with game three of eight tonight. They will get Golden State three more times this season – two at home.
The big storyline surrounding the Clippers is Blake Griffin and his injured hand and whether or not he’ll be traded today. Griffin broke his right hand punching assistant equipment manager Matias Testi, and Griffin addressed the situation publicly for the first time on Tuesday. “This is not something that I have ever had to deal with and not a position that I have ever been in, so it has been tough to know that I let my teammates down, let our organization down and let the fans down, let my family down, all of that,” Los Angeles has gone 18-5 with Griffin sidelined and rumors continue to persist that the club is shopping him prior to Thursday’s trading deadline. To be fair, the schedule in Griffin’s absence has not been overly impressive. Most of the opponents have had losing records, but if the 35-18 Clippers want to compete with San Antonio and Golden State, they’ll need Griffin focused on basketball. Center DeAndre Jordan has picked up his rebounding duties in Griffin’s absence and has ten straight double-digit rebounding efforts and is averaging 16.9 boards in that stretch. He had 17 rebounds in the Clippers loss to San Antonio back on December 18th.
Tonight’s Fantasy Picks: LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan
I think there’s just too many distractions on the Clippers squad right now and without Griffin, they can’t beat the top two teams in the West. I believe San Antonio gets the win and cover tonight.
Pick: Spurs -4.5