At this point in the season, Greg Popovich and the Spurs are only a few weeks and a handful of games away from the start of the playoffs. When your core players are in their mid to late 30s, this means that this point in the season is as close to pointless as you can get. I don’t think San Antonio believes that keeping the #1 seed in the Western Conference is more important than health, even though they are four games up on the Thunder with only seven games to go.
The NBA Odds have the Thunder as -4 favorites, with a total of 208. Coming off of the back-to-back last night, the Spurs’ core guys didn’t play a lot of minutes but they did play in between 20 and 30 for the most part. I mentioned in the video that they played “sizeable,” minutes, however that was not the case actually.
San Antonio took care of Golden State early last night, as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli played 20 minutes or less. Either way, it would not surprise me to see one or more Spurs starters not playing in this game tonight. It could just be a thought and nothing more, but there is a much greater than normal chance of someone important from the Spurs sitting down.
The same could potentially be said about Russell Westbrook on the other side. Note that this game could (emphasis on “could) be the first time in which a member from the other team gets “Popped.” If Popovich elects to rest starters for this game, I could see Westbrook sitting down for the Thunder, because of OKC’s game tomorrow evening.
All of this could just be wild speculation, and we could see a playoff style game that goes to the wire with all of the starters in. But why would either coach want that? The Spurs all but have the West locked up, and even if they lose to OKC, they’ll be three games up on the Thunder with six to go. The two teams will probably have an unspoken agreement to save it for the Western Conference Finals, because I don’t think either team is losing until they get there.
All of this, the spread is off limits entirely. Instead, the total looks like it could have some value, especially if some players from either team sit down. At 208, this might end of a matchup decided by bench players, and that leads me to believe the under is the play.
The Sharp Pick
For OKC, the under is 5-2 in their last seven home games, and for the Spurs, the under has cashed in six of their last eight games. Even thought the under is only 1-2 this season between these two teams, the under has cashed in five of the last seven overall matchups between the Spurs and Thunder.
Even if players sit, this will be a contested matchup, and that should lead to some more defense being played. Speaking of defense, Kendrick Perkins practiced yesterday for the Thunder, and reports say that he could be ready to make his return to the lineup.
I’m not trying to say that it’s a lock that anyone will sit. In fact I think it’s probably an even money wager at this point. However, no matter who is in the starting lineups, the under looks like a good play at 208.
My Pick: UNDER 208