NBA Pick: NBA Playoff Play of the Day Tuesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, May 27, 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 Tuesday.

The return of Serge Ibaka has already made a difference in the Western Conference Finals and we now look for him to help even up this series as the top seeded San Antonio Spurs (72-25, 32-15 away) again pay a visit to the second seeded Oklahoma City Thunder (68-30, 39-10 home) for Game 4 from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK at 9:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT with the Spurs leading the series 2-1

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Oklahoma City as a small home favorite for this contest with the current line at -2½ with odds of -108.

After the Spurs opened up this series with two blowout wins while being able to get easy shots in the paint when they wanted, the Thunder’s Serge Ibaka unexpectedly returned for Game 3 after it had been announced earlier that he would be out for the season with a severe calf injury, and San Antonio finally faced some defensive resistance for the first time in this series and shot just 39.6 percent while finally getting outscored in the paint 46-40 in the 106-97 loss.

And the story was not only that Ibaka returned but also how good he played despite an obvious limp in his gait, as he was able to play his usual stiff defense seemingly unencumbered by the calf injury, proving the elite defense he is known for to a team that sorely lacked any defense the first two games in San Antonio, and he was not bothered offensively either, scoring 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field.

Thunder Coach Scott Brooks also made another key adjustment by inserting Reggie Jackson into the starting lineup in place of Thabo Sefolosha, who was scoreless in the first two games of the series, and Jackson added 15 points himself to give Oklahoma City four double-digit scorers along with Ibaka and the normal Dynamic Duo of Kevin Durant (25) and Russell Westbrook (26). Expect to see Jackson in the starting lineup again in Game 4.

Thus, the Thunder resembled the complete team they were in the regular season for the first time in this series, as besides ranking fifth in the NBA in scoring at 106.2 points per game during the year, the underrated Oklahoma City defense ranked third in field goal percentage allowed at 43.6 percent an fifth in defensive efficiency, mostly keyed by Ibaka.

Now, the Spurs did not finish with the best record in the NBA by accident as they have the best depth in the league with the ability to go 10-deep without losing production, not to mention having probably the best coach in the league and one of the best of all time in Gregg Popovich. And we do fully expect the Spurs to ultimately win this series and face the Miami Heat in an NBA Finals rematch from last year.

However, winning this series will no longer be a cakewalk if Ibaka is able to play at close to 100 percent as he did in Game 3, and remember that the Thunder with a healthy Ibaka swept all four regular season meetings with the top seeds from San Antonio this year, and if we include the Game 3 win in this series, the Thunder have easily covered the spread in all three wins over the Spurs here in Oklahoma City this year.

With all of this in mind, look for the Thunder to guarantee that this series goes at least six games by evening up the series with a safe win in Game 4 on Tuesday.

[gameodds]5/291359/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Thunder -2½ (-108)