Peaking at the right time
In any sport, peaking deep into the playoffs is something every team strives for, and the Spurs are doing just that in these NBA Playoffs. If they can keep it up to finish this series, they will quickly be advancing to the NBA Finals. The way San Antonio is playing right now, the Thunder might not even have to book a hotel room for Game 5 in San Antonio.
I do think this Game 3 will be much more competitive now heading back to Oklahoma City, and the NBA odds agree. Right now, the Spurs are +2 underdogs, despite winning Game 2 by more than 30 points. The total is sitting at 208 points.
Even though the coaches are going to say that injuries are not an excuse (just like last year when Russell Westbrook went down), the Thunder were doomed eventually. Even though it was not known before this series, but Ibaka’s presence is almost as important as Westbrook’s or Kevin Durant’s to the Thunder. Ibaka’s presence on both ends of the floor is crucial to a Thunder team that is struggling to put the ball in the basket in this series, and struggling even more so on defense. Without Ibaka clogging up the paint, San Antonio is going to continue to get whatever they want in the post, and that includes Game 3 in OKC.
The Spurs’ defense on the other hand should travel well to OKC. Kevin Durant shot 6-16 through three quarters in Game 2 for only 15 points. Since the 2010-2011 postseason, Durant has only had less than 20 points in a playoff game two times before Wednesday night. Both times were against the Grizzlies’ Tony Allen, and one of them was this postseason. Kawhi Leonard is putting on a KD-defensive clinic, (better than Allen did in my opinion) and it’s not just how he is playing Durant defensively. He is making Durant work on the other end of the floor, which I believe is in turn hurting the Thunder offense some.
The Sharp Pick
The NBA odds are giving us some great value heading into Sunday evening with Game 3. At +2, I really like the Spurs in this game to keep their foot on the gas pedal. This game will surely be closer, but in the end, the Thunder do not have the ability to cover everyone on the Spurs. On the flip side, the Thunder only have two guys you need to account for, and in the NBA Playoffs, something like that is bound to be exploited by good coaching.
With that being said, Gregg Popovich is coaching circles around Scott Brooks in this series. When the Spurs go small it should play into the Thunder’s hands, however it’s making them nuts because they can’t cover the Spurs’ shooting on the perimeter and stop Tim Duncan in the post at the same time. Brooks had no answer for this strategy in the first two games, and with their personnel problems right now, I don’t think going home is going to solve anything. Take the points with your NBA pick.
My NBA Pick: Spurs +2