Free NBA Picks: Thunder Keep Making Noise In Series With Spurs

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 5, 2016 12:35 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 5, 2016 12:35 PM UTC

Before the Western Conference semis between Spurs and Thunder began, I thought San Antonio would be the right NBA pick. I will no longer believe that if OKC wins Game 3 on Friday.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Wildest 13.5 Seconds In Recent Memory
San Antonio lost just its second home game of the season, 98-97 to the Thunder in Game 2 on Monday night, also the Spurs' first playoff loss in 2016. Did they get hosed by the referees at the end of Game 2? An argument can be made as they struggle to win the Championship.

No doubt you have seen the wild final 13.5 seconds. Thunder guard Dion Waiters was trying to inbound the ball around half court. Guarding him was Manu Ginobili. And with the five-second limit about to expire, Waiters basically threw a forearm into Ginobili's chest to clear space. The pass to Kevin Durant in traffic was eventually stolen. Ginobili would get the ball and rive into the lane, but for some reason he opted not to take that close-range shot -- perhaps because Thunder 7-footer Steven Adams was in the vicinity. So Ginobili whipped a pass to the corner, where Patty Mills tried a 3-pointer that was way short. Then there was a rugby-style scrum as several Thunder and Spurs players wrestled for the ball under the basket, but time rain out before anyone had full control.

Ginobili was clearly fouled -- TNT analyst Chris Webber jumped right on that and was going ballistic calling for an offensive foul on the telecast. The lead referee admitted after the game it should have been called an offensive foul, which would have given the Spurs possession and time to set up a play for the win. So as a Spurs fan, you can howl about that. But also know that the NBA said in its post-game report that Ginobili should have been whistled for delay of game for stepping on the sideline as well. Plus, after the ball was inbounded, fouls should have been called on Mills for holding Adams and on Kawhi Leonard for grabbing the jersey of Russell Westbrook. That's not all: a foul after Mills' miss should have been called on Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka for grabbing and holding the jersey of LaMarcus Aldridge with 2.6 seconds left. Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?

It really was an embarrassment for the NBA and I'm assuming that crew won't be involved in this series again. The Spurs really have no one to blame but themselves for the loss. After shooting 60.7 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range in the Game 1 blowout win, they made just 42.6 percent overall and were 6-for-23 from long range in Game 2. Aldridge was fabulous Monday with 41 points and has been the best player in this series. But Leonard had just 14 points, Tony Parker seven and Tim Duncan two. Parker is now 4-for-12 from the field in the series for nine total points. He has to do more offensively.

The Spurs remain favorites on NBA odds to win this series, currently at -285.


Thunder's Dynamic Duo Played Like It
How to explain the Thunder losing by 32 in Game 1 and then stealing home-court advantage in Game 2? For one, this team did something similar in the first round against Dallas, winning Game 1 at home by 38 points and then dropping Game 2 by one. I would say the Thunder played with more urgency on Monday. Did you know that teams that won at least 65 regular-season games -- as San Antonio did -- are 35-0 all time in a playoff series when leading it 2-0? I'm sure OKC did.

But certainly both Durant and Westbrook were much better in Game 2 against the Spurs. They combined for 30 points in the series opener but 57 on Monday. Durant had 28 and shot well from the field for the first time in these playoffs, hitting 11-for-19. Westbrook had 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. But you expect that from those guys. The unsung star had to be Adams, who had 12 points and a career playoff-high 17 rebounds. And on that wild game-ending sequence, it was Adams who saved the game with his defensive hustle.

All that said, the Thunder were still held under 100 points, hit only 5-for-19 from long range and had 18 turnovers. They still too often simply give the ball to Durant or Westbrook and have the other three guys get out of the way. Durant and Westbrook had 14 of the team's 16 assists. They scored or assisted on 81 of the 98 points.

Oklahoma City is 5-1 at home against the Spurs in the playoffs since 2012 when both Durant and Westbrook play. The Thunder are +240 on NBA picks to win this series.

I'll take the Thunder at home and go 'over.' Theoretically, they should shoot better in their own gym. It's tough to see Aldridge keeping his pace up so the Spurs have to get more from Leonard, Parker and others. San Antonio is 3-7 ATS in its past 10 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. It has covered just two of the past 13 in OKC. The 'over' is 5-2 in OKC's past seven after a win. If you're looking for an in-depth look at the series, read our 6-game breakdown and fatten your wallet big time!

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Free MLB Pick: Over 198.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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