NBA Playoffs Odds: Thunder at Spurs Game 2 Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/28/2012
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals wasn’t quite the offensive explosion I expected but it was an excellent game – and from it came a new catchphrase that I guarantee will be on T-shirts in San Antonio for Game 2.
The Spurs were down nine points early in the fourth quarter when Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich was heard telling his team during a timeout that he wanted some “nasty.” Pretty tacky comment, but it clearly worked as a little more than three minutes later the Spurs tied the Thunder and less than six minutes after that, they had a 10-point lead. After scoring only 16 points in the third quarter, the Spurs had 39 in the fourth on the way to a 101-98 victory – the Thunder did cover, which I had predicted (missed the total, however).
It was the first time in the four meetings this season that the winning team didn’t cover and also the first time the total went ‘under’. It was San Antonio’s 19th straight victory – tying the longest winning streak ever kept alive in the postseason -- and only the fourth time in that streak the Spurs didn’t cover. They became just the fourth team in NBA history to start the postseason 9-0 or better. Of the three previous teams, all made the NBA Finals and two won it all. The last team to do this was the 2001 Lakers, who hold the record with the 1989 Lakers with the most consecutive wins to start the playoffs at 11.The last three teams to win their first eight playoff games had lost the opener of the conference finals on their way to dropping the series.
Thunder at Spurs Betting Story Lines
No one would call the Thunder a stellar defensive team, but allowing 39 points in a quarter was pretty startling: It was only the second time OKC allowed at least 39 points in any quarter all season, including the playoffs. So what changed? Well, the Spurs pounded it down low, outscoring the Thunder 16-2 in the paint in the final quarter. Their 39 points were the most in a fourth quarter since Feb. 13, 2008.
After OKC blocked nine shots in the first three quarters, the Thunder blocked none in the fourth. San Antonio was 12-for-16 from the field in that quarter. For some reason, Thunder Coach Scott Brooks had Serge Ibaka, one of the NBA’s best shot blockers, on the bench for the final quarter even though San Antonio repeatedly took the ball inside. Ibaka had already blocked two shots and changed a handful of others in the first three quarters.
San Antonio was uncharacteristically sloppy in the first half with 14 turnovers, their most in any first half all season. OKC scored 13 points off those turnovers. In the second half, the Spurs turned the ball over only three times, with the Thunder getting two points off those.
Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 26 points, winning the Sixth Man of the Year battle with James Harden by seven points; for the first time this season Harden didn’t attempt a free throw. Ginobili had 11 points in the fourth quarter. In the 24 minutes Tim Duncan, Ginobili and Tony Parker were on the court together, the Spurs outscored the Thunder by 14 points. In the other 24 minutes, they were outscored by 11 points.
The Thunder’s Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Harden were a combined 22-for-57 from the field – Durant had the worst plus/minus rating of any Thunder starter at -6 and failed to make a fourth-quarter field goal for just the third time in his postseason career. He was blanketed most of the night by Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson, with the latter on him for almost all of the fourth quarter. During one possession, the Thunder wasted 13 seconds of the shot clock trying unsuccessfully just to get the ball to Durant, who was wrapped up by Jackson. As noted in my Game 1 preview, the Spurs traded for Jackson largely with the idea of guarding Durant in mind.
Thunder at Spurs Betting Odds and Key Trends
San Antonio is a 4.5-point favorite for Game 2 with the total at 201 (it was 5.5 and 204 for opener) on NBA odds. The Spurs were 24-8-1 ATS at home during season and 16-17 ‘over/under’. In playoffs: 4-1 and 1-4. The Thunder were 18-15 ATS on road during season and 14-19 O/U. In playoffs: 4-0-1 and 3-2.
Oklahoma City is 1-4 ATS in its past five games when allowing 100 points or more in the previous game. San Antonio has covered 13 of its past 16 games following an ATS loss. The Spurs are 5-0-1 ATS in their past six games as a favorite of 4.5 points or less. The over is 6-1 in OKC’s past seven games playing on one day of rest. The over is 11-1 in San Antonio’s past 12 Tuesday games. San Antonio has covered seven of its past 10 in this series.
NBA Picks: Thunder at Spurs Betting Predictions
If it’s another close game on Tuesday night that seems to bode well for the Thunder. OKC had been great in close games in these playoffs, entering the first game of the series 4-1 in games decided by three points or less and 5-1 in games decided by six points or less. And for three quarters in Game 1, the Thunder were the better team. They simply stopped moving the ball in the fourth quarter and kept trying to force things to Durant. That’s fixable, as is making sure Ibaka is in the game. The Thunder are 16-3 this season following a loss. I think they steal Game 2. Take the over as well.
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