NBA Picks: Relentless Thunder To Strike One Last Time Against Spurs

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 12, 2016 1:06 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 12, 2016 1:06 PM UTC

I thought there was no chance the Spurs would lose a second straight at home in Game 5 against Oklahoma City. But that's what happened. Let's review the NBA odds and cash in tonight!

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Time To Bench Duncan
San Antonio chose forward/center Tim Duncan No. 1 overall in the 1997 draft. The Spurs had basically tanked the 1996-97 season when David Robinson went down with an injury and they finished 20-62. But that was only the third-worst record in the NBA behind the Grizzlies (then in Vancouver) and Celtics. However, San Antonio won the lottery and the rights to draft Duncan.

I mention this because Duncan may go down as the greatest power forward in NBA history. San Antonio has been arguably the most successful sports franchise in the United States since Duncan's arrival, never failing to make the playoffs and winning five championships.

But Thursday could be the first-ballot Hall of Famer's final game. Duncan, 40 is expected to retire whenever this season ends for the Spurs, and with them down 3-2 and in Oklahoma City for Game 6, things aren't looking great for Duncan to get another home game. Unfortunately, Duncan isn't going out all that gracefully as he has been a non-factor in this series. He followed up 12 scoreless minutes in Game 4 with five points (1-for-6 shooting) and three fouls in 28 minutes in the Spurs' 95-91 Game 6 loss. Duncan is averaging 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in this series and at this point the Spurs are probably better off benching him in favor of a smaller lineup with David West or Boris Diaw in the starting five.

Thursday also could be the final game  for swingman Manu Ginobili, also a likely future Hall of Famer when you also consider his international resume for Argentina. The 38-year-old looks too done as he had only three points in 19 minute in Game 5.

The Spurs, remember, had lost just once at home during the regular season but now have dropped two straight there (also Game 2). On the bright side from Game 5, Kawhi Leonard had 26 points, LaMarcus Aldridge 20 and Danny Green his best game of the series with 20. It was the first time since 1996 that a Spurs trio all scored at least 20 points in a game without involving at least one of Duncan, Ginobili or Tony Parker. Aldridge, meanwhile, has been shooting worse in each game of this series and was only 6-for-21 in Game 5. Parker hit on 4-for-12 and was held to nine points.

The Spurs are just 2-10 all-time under Coach Gregg Popovich when facing a road elimination game in the playoffs. San Antonio is now +125 on NBA odds to win this series.

Win And Durant Stays?
Thursday's game is one of the biggest in the history of the Thunder franchise because I have a hard time believing Kevin Durant will leave as a free agent if OKC makes the conference finals. And with all due respect to the defensive-minded Spurs, don't we all want to see an offensive extravaganza in the West Finals between Golden State and OKC?

Durant and Westbrook are basically beating the Spurs themselves at this point. Westbrook was easily the best player on the floor in Game 5 -- after Durant was in Game 4 -- with 35 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Westbrook also was involved in the clinching, controversial play, the second time in this series (Game 2) the referees appeared to miss a late call that benefitted the Thunder.

This time, OKC was up by a point with just under 10 seconds left and inbounding the ball on the Spurs' side of the court. Dion Waiters got the ball to Westbrook, who was clearly intentionally fouled by Leonard in an attempt to stop the clock and put Westbrook on the line. A few Spurs seemed to stop playing, but nothing was called and Westbrook drove to the basket, was fouled by Aldridge and scored on a layup. His ensuing free throw made it a four-point game with about six seconds left and that was that.

Frankly, OKC deserved to win as it dominated the fourth quarter for the second straight game. The Spurs led 88-82 with four minutes to go but then had three points on their final eight possessions. They shot only 28.6 percent in the quarter. Oklahoma City also crushed the Spurs on the boards all night with a plus-18 advantage. It was the worst San Antonio had ever been outrebounded under Popovich in a home playoff game. With Duncan so ineffective, the Spurs simply don't have an answer on the boards for Steven Adams (11 rebounds in Game 5) and Enes Kanter (13 rebounds).

The Thunder franchise, including its time in Seattle, has taken a 3-2 series lead 10 previous times and won nine of them. OKC is -145 on NBA picks to win this series.

I said the winner of Game 5 would win this series and I'm sticking with that. Take the Thunder and go 'over' here. The Spurs are 1-4 ATS in their past five after a loss. They are 3-12 ATS in their past 15 in OKC. The game total finished higher than 195.5 in the first two games in Oklahoma City in this series. Still not convinced? Read our compelte breakdown of the series and guarantee yourself a winning pick!

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Free MLB Pick: Over 196 -115
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

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