The Oklahoma City
Thunder Can Win Because…
They own the Spurs. The two teams squared off four times this season and the Thunder won every matchup. They’ve now won five straight meetings overall and 12 of the last 16 contests. Do you really want to be betting against that?
The issue for San Antonio is that they can’t slow down the Thunder. Oklahoma City averaged 106 points per game in the four meetings this year, which is hard to believe when you realize that the Spurs were the second-best defensive team in the West (97.6 points per game allowed). San Antonio can’t slow these guys don’t and they clear don’t score enough to keep up. The Thunder won the four meetings by an average of 9.3 points per game.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook look like the two best players in the game right now and while the Spurs have some nice balance, they don’t have superstars like this. Tim Duncan is in the twilight of his career, Tony Parker is past his prime and Manu Ginobili is fading. The Thunder have the young legs and the bigger stars. Take them with your NBA picks.
The San Antonio Spurs Can Win Because…
They’re more rested. There’s no arguing who’s the younger team. However, the Spurs have been off since Wednesday and for a team like this, having nearly a full week off will help. The Thunder could be gassed after getting pushed to seven games by a physical Memphis Grizzlies squad and six by a challenging Los Angeles Clippers team. The Spurs had a breeze in the second round and they’ll have more in the tank.
The Thunder are a two-trick pony. They’ll need Durant and Westbrook to shine every game for them to compete. If one of them has an off night, the Thunder are in trouble. However, the Spurs are more balanced and are deeper. They are very multi-faceted with all sorts of weapons that can create matchup problems. Along with the home-court advantage, that could be the difference.
Outlook & Pick
The Spurs are favored on the NBA odds but I’m not buying it. They struggled in the first round with the Dallas Mavericks, requiring seven games to oust the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed. Meanwhile, the Thunder beat two really good teams in the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Although the Thunder don’t have home-court advantage in this series, Durant and Westbrook are simply playing too well to lose here. Unless Kawhi Leonard has an unexpected coming out party where he performs like an All-Star, I don’t expect the Spurs to win this series. Look for the Thunder to steal one of the first two games and then protect home-court the rest of the way.
NBA Pick: Thunder +145 in 6 at TheGreek