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Spurs, Clips hook up
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (43-12) at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (39-17) Line & Total: Los Angeles -3.5 & 201

Two of the top teams in the Western Conference try to extend their long win streaks on Thursday night when the Spurs continue their long road trip against the Clippers.

San Antonio has been nearly perfect on its nine-game "rodeo" road trip, starting off 5-1 SU, including a current streak of four straight wins. That one loss (Feb. 8 at Detroit) has been the Spurs' only defeat in the past 16 games, a stretch where they have scored 103.0 PPG on 50% FG (37% threes) with a stellar 1.94 Ast/TO ratio. The Clippers have also posted four straight victories (3-1 ATS), in which the offense has averaged 110.0 PPG on 53% FG. Los Angeles is 21-5 SU (16-10 ATS) at home this season, while San Antonio is 21-10 SU (17-14 ATS) on the road, which is the best such mark in the entire league. These teams played twice in November, with both meetings resulting in Clippers victories. However, the Spurs had won 16 of the previous 18 meetings (14-4 ATS) between the clubs, including a four-game sweep in last year's playoffs. The revenge factor certainly comes into play here, as all extremely well-rested teams (3 games or less in 10 days) revenging a home loss versus an opponent are 42-16 ATS (72%) since 1996 when the line is +3 to -3. The Spurs are 42-27 ATS (61%) against teams with a winning record since the start of last season, and they also thrive after the All-Star break, as San Antonio is 36-13 ATS (73%) in the second half of the season over the past two seasons. And as last year's playoffs showed, the Clippers have no answers defensively when the Spurs are playing well.

It's no secret how San Antonio has the best record in the league, as it scores 104.3 PPG (4th in NBA) and allows just 95.9 PPG (8th in league). The Spurs share the ball better than any other team (NBA-high 25.0 APG) which leads to shooting percentages of 48.7% FG (2nd in league) and 38.2% threes (4th in NBA). All of this makes up for the team's poor rebounding of just 41.0 RPG (25th in NBA). PG Tony Parker (21.0 PPG, 7.7 APG) has been red-hot in the past five games, averaging 29.0 PPG (54% FG) and 9.0 APG. He had 30 points and 11 assists in Tuesday's win at Sacramento, but also committed a season-high-tying seven turnovers. But Parker has played horribly against Chris Paul this season, scoring just 7.5 PPG on 39% FG in the two defeats to Los Angeles. SG Manu Ginobili (12.3 PPG, 4.5 APG) has also had a tough time in this series, going 5-for-19 from the floor (26%) in the two defeats to the Clippers. But Ginobili played very well in Tuesday's win at Sacramento with 12 points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes of action. SG Danny Green (10.4 PPG) was also outstanding on Tuesday with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting (5-of-8 threes). But he has also struggled versus L.A. this season with a mere 9.0 PPG on 33% shooting. PF Tim Duncan (17.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG) has just 11.0 PPG in his two games since returning from a knee injury, but he's been a beast on defense with 10.0 RPG and 4.5 BPG in just 26.5 MPG over this span. He's also averaged a double-double (15.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG) in the season series with the Clippers, but has made just 37.5% FG in these two games. SF Kawhi Leonard (10.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG) has been the hottest frontcourt player for San Antonio, scoring 15.8 PPG (52% FG) with 6.3 RPG in his past eight games.

The Clippers are also a smart, unselfish basketball team, scoring over 100 points per game (100.4 PPG, 9th in NBA) on 23.3 APG (4th in league). They also play outstanding defense, allowing a mere 93.7 PPG (4th in NBA) on 43.6% FG (5th in league). Led by an elite on-ball defender, PG Chris Paul (NBA-high 2.59 SPG), the Clippers have allowed the Spurs to score just 85.5 PPG on 38% FG in the season series so far. Paul, who just captured the MVP of the NBA All-Star Game last Sunday, is no slouch offensively (16.6 PPG, 9.6 APG), especially in the past four games with 20.0 PPG (60% FG) and 10.5 APG. In the two meetings with the Spurs, he has a pedestrian 14.5 PPG, but has made 54% of his shots and has piled up 20 assists with just four turnovers. PF Blake Griffin (18.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG) has also been on a roll with three straight 20-point efforts, averaging 20.7 PPG (67% FG), 10.0 RPG and 4.0 APG in the past three games. Griffin has also averaged a double-double (19.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG) in the two games versus Los Angeles this season. SG Jamal Crawford (16.8 PPG) slumped in his final two games before the All-Star break with a paltry 10.5 PPG on 36% FG, and that doesn't expect to improve much tonight consider his 41% FG clip in 26 career games versus the Spurs, which includes a 7-of-21 mark this season.

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