EOG contributor IrishTim combines a strong background in mathematics with an intimate feel and deep understanding for athletics.

Tim’s skill set and mindset are tailor-made for forecasting sporting events and it’s no surprise he’s become one of the most respected voices across multiple websites in the online community of sports bettors.

It’s why his NBA playoff thread at EOG (www.eog.com) has generated more than 350 replies and 5,600 views over the past 30 days.

I appreciate Tim’s respect for the numbers and his quest for quantifying all factors in a sporting event, but I have one problem with IrishTim’s NBA handicapping theories regarding the relevance — or lack thereof — of a team’s bench beyond its sixth man.

Tim maintains an NBA team can be assessed solely through its top six players with no time spent or energy wasted on grading the strengths and weaknesses of an entire 12-man roster.

His blanket statement that a team’s bench (players 7 through 12) is irrelevant in the NBA playoffs needs an asterisk.

While most NBA teams are top-heavy and rely on either a dynamic duo like LeBron and D-Wade or Durant and Westbrook, or lean on three key players like the trio of Kobe-Gasol-Bynum or Rondo-Pierce-Garnett, the soon-to-be NBA champion San Antonio Spurs are an exception to the rule.

San Antonio General Manager R.C. Buford deserves high praise for constructing a versatile roster which takes advantage of the unique talents of specialty players like Tiago Splitter, Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner, players recruited to supplement the immense talents of mainstays Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

While Duncan, Parker and Ginobili still carry much of the scoring load, San Antonio’s role players are allowing the team’s three superstars to focus on the offensive end of the floor.

Who was guarding Chris Paul during crunch time of the Spurs-Clippers series?

It wasn’t fellow point guard Tony Parker but rather Danny Green, a long, athletic wing player who was able to pester the dribble of Paul and still challenge the shot of the All-NBA First Team player.

And who was guarding Kevin Durant in the final moments of yesterday’s 101-98 victory over the Thunder?

It wasn’t one of the top six players on the roster but rather Stephen Jackson, a late-season acquisition from the Golden State Warriors who possesses the size, strength and experience to check players like Durant or LeBron James.

San Antonio’s deep roster affords head coach Gregg Popovich the opportunity to utilize his full roster for specific roles, keeping his aging superstars from wearing down — physically or mentally — over the course of the regular season and especially the postseason.

“Pop” is expert at making offense-for-defense substitutions in late-game situations and his knack for calling on the right player at the right time has helped produce San Antonio’s 19-game winning streak.

The Spurs have lost four times over the past 80 days so I doubt seriously they’ll lose four times over the next 10 days to Oklahoma City.

In fact, it is San Antonio’s superior depth that will allow the Spurs to get stronger as the 2012 NBA postseason gets longer and possibly extend their winning streak to twentysomething.

MONDAY’S BEST BET…..Play 973-974 Chicago White Sox-Tampa Bay Rays “OVER” 7.5 runs.

Sometimes the obvious play is the right play.

No team in MLB right now is swinging the bats as well as the White Sox.

They’ve scored 52 runs over the last five games.

Paul Konerko is riding a 15-game hitting streak and should have a good swing against left-hander Matt Moore.

Same is true for Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton against Chicago southpaw Chris Sale.

Upton is in terrific form with 17 hits in his last 42 at-bats.

COMING TUESDAY…..A preview of the WNBA game (Tulsa v Los Angeles) set for tomorrow night at Staples Center.

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