by Chris Arena, www.sportsinsights.com
Each week, we're going to take a look at a few teams around The Association that we think deserve extra consideration. We will not be giving picks; however, we believe these insights can help the prudent bettor looking for that extra bit of information to help them make a more informed decision on upcoming games. We welcome your feedback - contact us! Also, you can comment and subscribe to our blog. For previous articles, please visit our archive.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have officially lost Manu Ginobili for the remainder of the season and analysts everywhere are writing them off to win even one series in the Western Conference playoffs. Ginobili is an interesting player, and certainly a big piece of the Spurs offense when healthy, but will the Spurs really not be able to win without him? The best way to tackle this question is to analyze the Spurs record with and without his presence off the bench and project those numbers to the futurr. With an eye towards the playoffs, let's take a look at what Ginobili's loss really means to the Spurs.
First, how important has Ginobili been to the Spurs during the regular season? He's played in 44 games, averaging 15.5/4.5/3.6 (points/rebounds/assists) and shooting 45.4% from the field. The Spurs won 32 of the 44 games he played in, for a winning percentage of 73%, almost 10 percentage points higher than their overall mark of 64% (50-28). Over an 82 game season, the Spurs would be expected to win about 60 games with Ginobili, an impressive mark, but in the playoffs they need only win 4 of 7 games (57%) to win a series. Clearly, the Spurs a better team with Manu than without, but are they good enough without him to win a playoff series?
In games without Ginobili, the Spurs have a record of 18-16 and a 53% winning percentage, just below the 57% that would be expected of a playoff-series winner. However, the Spurs played their worst basketball without Manu at the start of the season, losing 5 of their first 7 games. After this adjustment period, the Spurs went 16-11 without Ginobili, good for a winning percentage of 59%. Compartively, the winning percentage of the worst playoff team in the West, Dallas, currently stands at 60%. The teams that San Antonio are most likely to face sport even higher winning percentages: Houston and Portland at 64% and New Orleans at 62%. It seems as though the Spurs have a legitimate reason to be worried.
The following table presents some final research that will be useful to sports bettors once the Western Conference standings become final. It includes the head-to-head record of San Antonio against each possible opponent, with and without Ginobili.
Opponent - Spurs Record w/ Manu - (Spurs Record w/o Manu)
New Orleans - 1-2 (0-0)
Portland - 0-0 (1-3)
Houston 0-1 (2-1)
Portland is the worst match-up and New Orleans is untested, but I would fade the Spurs against both of these teams if San Antonio faces either in the first round. New Orleans has gotten the best of them with Ginobili, so you have to assume they would fare even better in his absence. Portland has taken three of four games against the Manu-less Spurs, including a recent 95-83 pounding on April 8th. Clearly Houston is the best match-up for the Spurs, and given the Rockets history in the playoffs I would feel good betting on San Antonio to take the series.