San Antonio Spurs vs. Washington Wizards Prediction: Pop Marches to Immortality

San Antonio Spurs vs. Washington Wizards prediction and pick for Friday's game. Handicapper Jonathan Macri breaks down Spurs vs Wizards plus Knicks vs. Heat in his best picks for Friday's NBA action.
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San Antonio Spurs vs. Washington Wizards Prediction: Pop Marches to Immortality

  • When: 7:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

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San Antonio Spurs vs. Washington Wizards Line Movement

San Antonio Spurs vs. Washington Wizards Prediction

When Greg Popovich coached his first NBA game, more than half of the current San Antonio roster had yet to be born, while three members of this year's team were under a year old.

That first season began way back in 1996, when the likes of Michael Jordan and Karl Malone were still dominating the league and Allen Iverson and the late Kobe Bryant were just starting their NBA careers, didn't exactly go as planned. David Robinson suffered an injury that would sideline him for all but six games, and as a result, the team started 3-15. Head coach Bob Hill was fired, and then assistant coach Popovich took over on an interim basis. He'd go 17-47 the rest of the way - an improvement over his predecessor but still bad enough for the franchise to land the first overall pick and select generational big man Tim Duncan. The rest, as they say, is history.

Well, a history with one last chapter left to write. At the moment, Pop in two wins behind Don Nelson for the most regular season coaching wins in NBA history. His team, meanwhile, is performing admirably, having rebounded from a 4-13 start, and after four wins in their last six games, is 23-36, just 1.5 games back from the Blazers for the 10th seed. If you know anything about Popovich, you know the pursuit of that spot means far more to him than any personal accolades.

His team will move one step closer to that goal, and to getting their coach his latest honor, tonight. The Wizards remain the walking wounded, with no Bradley Beal, no Kristaps Porzingis, and Montrezl Harrell traded to Charlotte. Despite that, the Spurs are barely one-possession favorites. San Antonio is 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five matchups in which they were favorites against under .500 teams. They'll push that to 5-0-1 tonight. Give the points on the road.

Spurs at Wizards Pick

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New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat

  • When: 7:30 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

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New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Line Movement

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Prediction

At this point, banking on the Knicks to make a final push for the play-in tournament is akin to believing in unicorns. It's a pleasant fantasy - one that centers around a beleaguered team rallying around their even more beleaguered coach who may or may not be on the hot seat, and recalling the mental fortitude that got them the fourth seed in the East last season.

Can it happen? Anything is possible, especially now that Kemba Walker, who has been one of the worst plus/minus players in the entire league, has been shut down for good this season. In his place will be Derrick Rose, out since mid-December. Also returning is RJ Barrett, who missed the last three games, all losses, one more devastating than the last. Throw in a return to form for Julius Randle, and you have the makings of an improbable comeback.

There are only a few issues. For one, Derrick Rose might not be back tonight, and is currently listed as doubtful. In his place we're likely to see Alec Burks, who has been an improvement over Walker as the starting point guard but still leaves much to be desired, especially late in close games. Second, and more importantly, the Knicks face the Heat, who present perhaps the worst matchup for them in the entire league.

Last time these teams played a month ago, in a game that was also on national television, the Knicks came out with such a poor effort that their former head coach (and Thibodeau confidant) Jeff Van Gundy called the notion of sticking with the same starting lineup the definition of insanity. Even if Barrett, currently slapped with the questionable tag, is back, he'll be rusty, and has struggled mightily against Miami's switch-heavy defense.

The Heat have won four straight in this matchup and eight of the last night. They'll make it nine of 10 tonight. Give the points on the road.

Heat at Knicks Pick

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Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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