Gunning For The Champs

Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs and Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks are both talented NBA forwards, but the similarities pretty much end there.

The steady Duncan and the flashy Smith square off on Tuesday when the Spurs visit the Hawks.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made San Antonio -6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 190.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio –6 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Since the Spurs (8-2) selected him with the first overall pick in 1997 after his four years at Wake Forest, Duncan has been one of the league's top post players. He has averaged a double-double in each of his 10 seasons, winning two MVP awards and claiming his fourth NBA championship last season.

Despite his impressive resume, however, Duncan is known more for his consistency than his dominance.

Smith, on the other hand, has earned a reputation as one of the league's most exciting players since he entered the NBA directly out of high school from Georgia in 2004. His play can be erratic, but also eye-popping.

Smith, the NBA's Slam Dunk champion as a rookie in 2005, hasn't made many highlight reels with his play against San Antonio. He's averaged just 6.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots in five career games against the Spurs. He's never scored more than 10 points against them.

Duncan has gotten the better of those matchups, averaging 21.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks against the Hawks since Atlanta drafted Smith.

On Friday, Duncan scored a season-best 25 points and matched a season high with 13 rebounds to lead San Antonio to its fifth win in six games, 90-84 over Houston.

"It's why he's the focal point of our team," said San Antonio forward Bruce Bowen. "He's the foundation here. There's times when he'll get a silent 20 and create so many shots for other guys. That's the versatility he has."

Smith's performance against Milwaukee on Saturday was a little louder. He had a career-high 38 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals in the 105-96 loss, including 15 points in the fourth quarter to help Atlanta (3-6) stay close.

"It's a great night (for Smith), but I'm happy and I'm unhappy because to me it's not about individual awards. It's about winning," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.

Smith, who had missed Atlanta's previous game Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain, estimated he was playing at 75 to 80 percent.

"I tried to come back and tried to make a stand, we fell short, but our effort is there," he said. "It was one of those games where you feel it and get it going."

The 21-year-old Smith has been delivering games like that more often in his fourth NBA season. He's averaging career highs in scoring (19.4), assists (3.4), steals (2.4) and blocked shots (3.6).

Despite Smith's progress, the Hawks have lost four of five games. However, two of their three wins this season came at home against Dallas and Phoenix - the teams with the two best records in the NBA last season. San Antonio finished third.

The Spurs, though, have won 14 of 18 games against the Hawks during Duncan's career, including both meetings last season by an average of 10.5 points.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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