Defensive Effort Needed

The San Antonio Spurs have built one of the strongest franchises in the NBA by becoming one of the league's stingiest defensive teams. Lately, however, that signature characteristic of their game has been noticeably absent.

After having their five-game win streak snapped because of another uncharacteristically poor defensive effort, the Spurs look to avoid their first back-to-back defeats of the season Wednesday when they host the high-scoring Washington Wizards.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made San Antonio –12.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 203.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio –12.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Spurs led the league in scoring defense last season, allowing 90.1 points per game to rank in the league's top three in that category for the 10th straight season. That defensive prowess has been instrumental in the Spurs winning four NBA championships during that stretch.

San Antonio (12-3) has continued to succeed this season, opening with the best 14-game start in team history despite some defensive lapses. The Spurs' inability to stop opponents, however, caught up to them Monday, when they fell 112-99 at Sacramento for their first loss in six games.

"We are not playing the kind of defense we want to play," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "We need to be ready to play smarter defense. Not just harder, but smarter. I feel like we have been winning with our offense lately.

"We have had games where we score 128, 115 and 110. It's always fun in the game, but that's not who we are. We've really got to find our defense and hold teams under 90 points."

The Spurs are still near the top of the league in scoring defense at 92.9 points per game, but they've given up 102.8 in their last four. Five of San Antonio's last seven opponents have shot better than 50 percent from the field - a feat accomplished against the Spurs only eight times last season.

"We are not really good right now," said Tim Duncan, a seven-time member of the All-Defensive first team. "But it is early in the season. This is the time to get better for the playoffs. We are going to have to get much better on defense in order to get where we want to go."

San Antonio could struggle to contain red-hot Washington, which has topped 100 points in nine straight games to go 7-2 in that stretch.

The Wizards (7-7) lost back-to-back games over the weekend, but rebounded with a 110-98 victory Monday night in Dallas, where the Mavericks had won their first six games.

The Wizards' recent success on the offensive end has caught teams around the league by surprise, considering Washington has been without Gilbert Arenas - the team's leading scorer last season - for the last six games. Arenas is expected to miss three months after undergoing knee surgery last week.

Without Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison have sparked the Wizards offensively. Butler went 13-for-17 from the field and had 35 points in the win over Dallas, and Jamison added 27 points while shooting 7-for-15.

"That was one heck of a win for us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "The things that have been good for us since Gil has been out is our camaraderie, our support for each other and we know we have to have it. So the intrinsic values help us a lot."

With Monday's win, the Wizards improved to 4-2 without Arenas this season. They were 3-5 with him.

"Never underestimate our will," said Butler, who's averaging 31.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals while shooting 58.5 percent from the field in his last four games. "Guys were aggressive and stayed positive. It's not going to be one individual (replacing Arenas). We've just got to continue to keep this thing going."

That could be a challenge against San Antonio, which had no problem stopping the high-powered Wizards last season. The Spurs held Washington to 81.5 points per game and swept the two-game season series.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

More NBA Basketball Coverage from

 - NBA Basketball teams
 - NBA Basketball standings
 - NBA Basketball schedule
 - NBA Basketball scoreboard
 - NBA Basketball injuries
 - NBA Basketball matchups
 - NBA Basketball stats
 - NBA Basketball odds
 - NBA Basketball public betting chart
 - NBA Basketball news wire
 - NBA Basketball top stories
 - NBA Basketball trends
 - AccuScore NBA Basketball predictions
 - Expert NBA Basketball picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for daily newsletter
 - NBA Basketball Home

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail NBA Finals Odds After a year of waiting, we finally have the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors set to meet in the NBA Finals for a third straight time. Here’s a look at the odds to win...
Thumbnail Cavs vs. Celtics Game 5 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers close out the Eastern Conference Finals with a big win when they face the Boston Celtics tonight in Game 5 at...
Thumbnail Celtics vs. Cavs Game 4 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers bounce back after an embarrassing loss when they host the Boston Celtics tonight in Game 4 at...
Thumbnail Warriors vs. Spurs Game 4 Pick Will the Golden State Warriors continue their dominance of the San Antonio Spurs when they meet up in Game...
Thumbnail Celtics vs. Cavs Game 3 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers show any mercy to the Boston Celtics when the two meet in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at...

NBA Headlines

  • OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) When Bob Myers hosts a dinner party, he is the guy who once it's all over has a pretty good read on the entire evening: who had a great time, who held something back, which co...
  • AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the c...
  • Here they go again.
    For the third straight year, it's Cleveland and Golden State in the NBA Finals. The 2016 champions versus the 2015 champions . The first ''threematch'' - rematch of a remat...
  • Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas wanted to keep playing in the Eastern Conference finals, but team doctors and officials convinced him he needed to shut down his season for his long-term he...
  • WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) Celtics star Isaiah Thomas says it's too early to tell if he needs surgery on his right hip.
    The injury knocked the Boston point guard out of the Eastern Conference finals...

NBA Team Pages