Spurs look to break out of tight Western Conference playoff race


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The San Antonio Spurs are in a battle with the Jazz, Clippers and Thunder for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. Only a game separates the teams with under ten games remaining. The Spurs are 43-31  and 29-8 at home. They look to take down the Cavaliers that are 19-55 and only 6-30 on the road. However, they defeated Philadelphia on the road earlier in the season, so they are capable of an upset.

Examining the teams statistically and the Cavaliers are near the bottom of the league in scoring, scoring defense, rebounding and three-point attempts per game. They take care of the ball well, ranked 4th in fewest turnovers and are accurate from long range, ranked 9th in three-point percentage. San Antonio is the best three-point shooting team in the league, however take the fewest attempts. They are also first in fewest turnovers, making the most of their possessions. The Spurs are only in the middle of the pack in scoring, scoring defense and rebounding.

Kevin Love leads the Cavaliers in scoring and rebounding at 17.9 and 11.4, respectively. Jordan Clarkson has been a good number two option, dropping 17 per game, while youngster Collin Sexton has been excellent, hitting 41 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 16 points. Tristan Thompson is another of the few really good rebounders on the team, averaging 10.7 boards per contest. Larry Nance Jr and Cedi Osman have been solid contributors, combining for 22 points per game.

The Spurs have the better superstar talent with the presence of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. DeRozan is averaging 21.4 points and 6.2 assists per game. Aldridge scored 48 against the Celtics recently and averages 21.3 points and nine rebounds per game. David Bertans, Rudy Gay, Patty Mills ad Bryn Forbes all hit over 40 percent from beyond the arc, while Marco Belinelli hits 38 percent from long range. The wide array of long range bombers could pose trouble for Cleveland's perimeter defense.

The Spurs have the better talent up and down the roster, but have to be careful not to be lulled into a false sense of security. With much to play for, that is unlikely to happen. Cleveland could stay competitive for some time, but the Spurs will pull away eventually and win.

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