SAN ANTONIO SPURS (38-11)
at MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (18-27)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -4.5, Total: 197
The Spurs try to win their 11th straight game when they begin their annual rodeo road trip in Minnesota on Wednesday night.
San Antonio has not lost since Jan. 11, but they embark on a nine-game road trip Wednesday that lasts until Feb. 24. And the team will begin the long journey without two of its stars in PF Tim Duncan (knee) and SG Manu Ginobili (hamstring). But the Timberwolves are in a major slump, losing 12 of their past 14 games (3-10-1 ATS), and also have major injury woes with PF Kevin Love (hand) and SF Andrei Kirilenko (quadriceps) both out for Wednesday's contest. The Spurs have lost their past two trips to Target Center, but are 18-2 SU in the past 20 meetings in this series.
Can the Spurs extend their win streak with a lopsided road win? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. For NBA Totals, the experts are an outstanding 34-14 (71%) in the past 12 days with StatFox Gary at 13-4 (76%) StatFox Brian going 10-4 (71%) and StatFox Scott at 11-6 (65%) since Jan. 25. For the season, Scott is a whopping 59% (73-51) in Totals, while Gary is a solid 53% (64-57-4). For NBA Best Bets, the experts went 5-1 ATS (83%) on Tuesday and are a collective 29-19 ATS (60%) over the past seven days, with StatFox Dave going 10-5 ATS (67%) over this stretch. Scott is 10-4 ATS (71%) in his past eight days of Best Bets and is now 54.4% ATS (74-62-1) for the season.
San Antonio's offense has been extremely efficient during the win streak with 101.7 PPG on 50.2% FG (33.6% threes) with 25.7 APG and just 13.7 TOPG (1.88 Ast/TO margin). The defense has also been excellent during the 10-game surge, allowing just 90.8 PPG on 43.3% FG and forcing 15.5 TOPG. Star PG Tony Parker (20.1 PPG, 7.6 APG) is having an outstanding season, and is the biggest reason his team keeps winning, averaging 23.2 PPG on 59% FG with 8.8 APG in the past 12 contests, and scoring at least 17 points in every game. He has not been at his best in this series, averaging just 13.8 PPG (45.5% FG) and 6.7 APG in his past 10 meetings with the Timberwolves, but Parker was able to score 20 points on 10-of-15 FG in the Jan. 13 victory. With Duncan (17.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG) and Ginobili (12.5 PPG, 4.5 APG) both out, C Tiago Splitter (10.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG) is the only other double-digit scorer for the Spurs. He has 12 straight games of 10+ points, averaging 14.0 PPG on a whopping 66% FG, plus 8.2 RPG during this stretch. PG Gary Neal (9.8 PPG) has shot terribly in his past eight games, averaging 6.6 PPG on 30% FG and 8-of-29 threes. His minutes have been limited to 13.3 MPG in the past three games, a span where he's made just 4-of-16 shots. SG Danny Green (9.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG) has caught fire, scoring 16.0 PPG on 11-of-15 FG in the past two games, but he was held scoreless (0-for-4 FG) in the Jan. 13 win over Minnesota. SF Kawhi Leonard (9.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG) is also starting to find a groove in his past six games, averaging 12.5 PPG (12-of-25 threes) and 7.0 RPG during this stretch.
A big reason Minnesota has lost 12 of its past 14 games is a lack of defense. Seven opponents have made over 50% FG during this stretch, as they are averaging 100.1 PPG on 49.2% FG and 39% threes during these 14 contests. The Wolves have gotten their offense in gear lately with 100.8 PPG on 47.9% FG, but are making a woeful 66.4% free throws during these half-dozen contests. With Love and Kirilenko both out, C Nikola Pekovic (15.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG) has the added burden of scoring more in the paint. He is averaging 14.5 PPG and 9.8 RPG in his past four games, but had just four rebounds in 29 minutes in the loss at San Antonio last month. PG Luke Ridnour (11.8 PPG, 4.0 APG) is the next highest scorer on the team, but his minutes have been cut to 24.3 MPG in the past four games, leading to a 7.3 PPG average and 41.9% FG clip. Guards J.J. Barea (11.5 PPG, 4.5 APG) and Alexey Shved (10.9 PPG, 4.7 APG) are the other double-digit scorers for this team. Barea has 13.4 PPG (48% FG) and 5.0 APG in his past eight games. He also had a team-high 15 points and six assists in the last meeting with San Antonio, but missed four of five threes and committed five turnovers. Shved has posted some quality minutes since his return from injury, averaging 12.5 PPG and 5.0 APG. PF Derrick Williams (9.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG) has been going through a rough stretch in his past five games, tallying just 6.2 PPG (33% FG) and 3.6 RPG in 19.0 MPG of action. For the Wolves to pull this upset off, both PG Ricky Rubio (6.0 PPG, 5.8 APG) and PF Dante Cunningham (8.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG) will have to play at a level similar to Monday's 100-98 loss to Portland. Rubio had a season-high 15 points and tied a career high with 14 assists in that game, while Cunningham scored a career-high 23 points to help his team nearly erase a 19-point deficit in the final quarter.