NBA Pick: NBA Playoff Play of the Day Sunday

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, May 25, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

Every day during the NBA Playoffs, LT Profits Sports seeks that one single playoff play that has the best chance of cashing. Here is their Playoff Play of the Day Sunday.

There is a possibility that Serge Ibaka could return for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday night, but whether he does or does not, expect the teams to come home ‘under’ the inflated total when the San Antonio Spurs (72-24, 32-14 away) pay a visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder (67-30, 38-10 home) at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK at 8:35 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT with the top seeded Spurs leading the series 2-0

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 208½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.

San Antonio has taken advantage of the absence of Ibaka, who is one of the premier defending forwards in the NBA, while recording two routs to begin this series thanks to facing little resistance getting to the paint. The Spurs shot an incredible 57.5 percent in Game 1 in a 122-105 triumph while outscoring the Thunder 66-32 in the paint, and then shot 50.0 percent in a 112-77 win in Game 2 while winning the paint battle 54-42.

Those 42 points in the paint by the Thunder in Game 2 were rather deceptive too as the game was never in doubt with San Antonio having a huge lead, and even with some easy looks after the Spurs relaxed, Oklahoma City shot just a woeful 39.3 percent for the contest. That included hitting on only 2-of-20 three-point attempts, as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each finished with a relatively low 15 points.

Besides his great defense, Ibaka was also the Thunder’s third leading scorer this season in support of Durant and Westbrook, making him arguably Oklahoma City’s best two-way player. Thus he was expected to be a humongous loss in this series when it was previously announced that Ibaka will out for the remainder of the season.

However, the latest word is that he would do no further damage to his injured calf if he plays, so the now desperate Thunder may allow him to give it a go with the belief that even an Ibaka at 50 percent could do a better job of keeping the Spurs out of the paint than his replacements Nick Collison and Steven Adams have done.

Regardless whether Ibaka plays or not though, the Dynamic Duo will have to continue to carry the scoring load. That would be obvious if Ibaka cannot go, but even if he does give it a whirl, his main purpose would be to provide stiffer defense and the Thunder may choose to save the hobbled star’s energy on the offensive end. So in any event, do not expect to see the same Oklahoma City offense that ranked fifth in the league in scoring at 106.2 points per game.

That would make it very difficult for these teams to exceed a lofty total like this. As mentioned, the possible return of Ibaka could change the complexion of this series with the Spurs not getting in the paint as easily, thus diminishing the odds of matching their incredible shooting percentages of the first two games.

Now granted, the Spurs could again be able to run up the score if Ibaka cannot go, but the flip side of that is it would also make Oklahoma City easy to defend while only focusing on two players, and we could have a repeat of Game 2, which went easily ‘under’ because only one team did most of the scoring.

Therefore, the status of Ibaka actually has no influence on our selection of this total, as we expect an ‘under’ whether he plays or not in Game 3 from Oklahoma on Sunday.

[gameodds]5/291357/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Spurs, Thunder ‘under’ 208½ (-105)