Friday Quick Pick: Injuries Won't Affect Defenses in Thunder-Spurs

Jordan Sharp

Friday, November 17, 2017 3:37 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 3:37 PM UTC

The Thunder are coming into San Antonio on Friday winners of three straight games, and with Kawhi Leonard still out for the Spurs and Steven Adams potentially out for the Thunder again, one would think the defenses will suffer. However, that’s not the case in my eyes.

Free NBA Pick: Under 101.5 First HalfBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Thunder at Spurs

The Thunder have been up and down this season on offense as they work to integrate Paul George and Carmelo Anthony into the mix. It was pretty obvious that would be a work in progress, and even after three straight wins I’m not sold just yet. They beat three teams recently that are either bad or not as good as expected, and tonight they have to travel into San Antonio to face a tough defensive team.

The Spurs are holding teams to 103.4 points per 100 possessions this season, which ranks 5th-best currently. The Thunder have been even better with a defensive rating of 100.4. That has pushed the total from 203 where it opened to 197½. While I am tempted to take the 'under', I think the better play is the first-half total of 101½.

These two teams are both playing better defense in the first halves of games, and even though the Thunder tend to play faster in the first half, the Spurs at home are going to dictate this pace and they play much slower in the first half.

San Antonio plays at a pace of 97.8 possessions per game in the first half, which ranks 29th in the league. Furthermore, the Spurs' defense improves slightly to 102.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, and the Thunder have been even better. OKC is holding its opponents to a defensive rating of 90.1 in the first half, which is easily the best mark in the league. That has helped the Thunder allow 45.6 points per first half and just 44.8 points per first half in their last five games.

The Spurs also hold their opponents to less than 50 points per first half in their eight home games this season, so I expect both squads to lock down in the first half of this one.

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