Spurs at Thunder Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/4/2013
The San Antonio Spurs played at home Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic, meaning I should know better than to preview the Spurs' game Thursday night in Oklahoma City. This sets up as a perfect Gregg Popovich game to sit Tony Parker and/or Tim Duncan in the second of a back-to-back on the road. But Spurs-Thunder has a ton of importance, so I am banking on Pop doing the right thing and playing his guys. I would expect, however, several guys to sit in San Antonio's final back-to-back of the season, April 14 at the Lakers and April 15 at Golden State. Wouldn't it be a shame of Popovich helped get L.A. into the playoffs because he didn't play Parker and/or Duncan in that game?
First things first: Thursday's matchup is potentially for the top seed in the West. Entering Wednesday's action, the Spurs are a game up on the Thunder for the conference's best record, and I am sure they beat the Magic to take a 1.5-game lead. San Antonio also leads the season series with the Thunder 2-1, meaning an upset Thursday would clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker and essentially give the Spurs a 3.5-game lead over OKC. A Thunder win, however, would put them in the driver's seat. The second tiebreaker is record within the conference, and OKC is 34-13 and the Spurs 32-14.
The question I would ask is: Do you really want the top seed in the conference? That could well mean a first-round matchup with the Lakers, still a team no one wants to play. Utah still could beat out L.A. for that No. 8 spot, however, and the Jazz wouldn't have a prayer against the Spurs or Thunder. Finishing No. 2 means playing either Houston or Golden State, two high-scoring teams but not very good on defense.
Spurs at Thunder Betting Story Lines
Oklahoma City has nearly every advantage you could ask for in this game. The Thunder are home, healthy, and they haven't played since Saturday, when they won 109-99 at Milwaukee behind 30 from Kevin Durant and 23 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds from Russell Westbrook (his first triple-double of the season).
Barring a collapse down the stretch, Durant should beat out Carmelo Anthony for his fourth straight scoring title as he leads Melo 28.3-27.9. Durant would be an MVP in most any other season as he is on pace to join Larry Bird (1986-87) as the only NBA players to average more than 28 points while shooting over 50 percent from the field, 90 percent from the line and 40 percent from three-point range in a season. Durant, who no doubt will finish second to LeBron in the MVP voting again, is shooting 50.5 percent from the field, 90.8 from the charity stripe and 41 percent from long range. Those are all career-bests.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks has said he has no plans to sit his players down the stretch like Popovich always does and Miami's Erik Spoeltra is currently doing. I would look for Durant's and Westbrook's minutes to start dropping a bit in the final few games, though. Westbrook has played in 386 consecutive games, the active leader.
The Spurs have seen six straight games entering Wednesday go down to the final possession and have won three of those. The first of the streak was a seven-point overtime win over Utah, while the last five all have been decided by two points or fewer. The Spurs lost on a Chris Bosh last-second three-pointer to shorthanded Miami (no Wade or LeBron) on Sunday and then on a Mike Conley layup with 0.6 seconds left at Memphis on Monday. It's the Spurs' first losing streak since mid-December.
San Antonio played without Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard on Monday. Ginobili, who also missed the Heat game, is out the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury. He has played in just one of the three Thunder games this year, scoring 12 points in 24 minutes in San Antonio's 105-93 win in the most recent meeting. The teams also played Nov. 1 in San Antonio, which the Spurs won 86-84 on a Parker buzzer-beating jumper. The Thunder romped in their one home game, winning 107-93 on Dec. 17 behind a career game from Serge Ibaka (25 points and 17 rebounds).
Spurs at Thunder NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Thunder opened as seven-point favorites with the total at 202.5. The Spurs (all trends entering Wednesday) are 38-34-2 ATS (20-17 on road) and 32-40-2 “over/under” (18-7-2 on road). The Thunder are 44-28-2 ATS (26-11 at home) and 35-37-2 O/U (20-16-1 at home).
San Antonio has covered just two of its past eight Thursday games. It is 1-5 ATS in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Thunder are 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games vs. a team with a winning road record. OKC has covered seven of its past 10 after at least three days of rest. The under is 5-0 in the Spurs' past five road games. The over has covered in nine of the Thunder's past 12 home games against teams with a winning road record. The Spurs are 0-4 ATS in their past four at OKC. The over has covered in seven of the past 10 there.
Spurs at Thunder Picks and Betting Predictions
Sometimes you can take advantage of Popovich's unpredictability. That line, for example, will definitely change if he sits one or more of his starters. Thus, I would definitely jump on it now -- plus the Thunder are well-rested. Take the Thunder and the over. It's the start of a killer three-games-in-four-nights stretch for OKC as it visits Indiana on Friday (major trap game after this one for Thunder) and hosts the red-hot Knicks on Sunday.
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