Spurs’ depth punishes Thunder
For the first time in these entire playoffs, the Thunder looked exhausted in Game 5, as the smaller lineup for the Spurs really hurt the Thunder on defense. Even with Tony Parker not at his best, the Spurs got big contributions from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and four other Spurs who finished in double figures. We barely cashed our 'under' play (some of you may have pushed), and now the NBA odds have the Thunder as -3 ½ favorites, with a total of 207 back in OKC.
did going home seem to help the Spurs, but also switching Kawhi Leonard onto
Russell Westbrook might have been the adjustment that made this series. Moving
to a smaller lineup helped the Spurs some too, but moving Leonard onto
Westbrook, and shifting Danny Green on Kevin Durant really improved the Spurs’
defense. Not only that, but inserting Boris Diaw to play big minutes once again
created a ton of mismatches for the Thunder, and it ended up costing them.
Back at home in Game 6, the Thunder will not only play better defense, but like most teams, their offense will go up, as well. With the way this series has been going, it seems as if the Thunder may have value in Game 6. In fact the Thunder have been extra successful against the Spurs when playing at Chesapeake Bay Arena, and I think it will continue on Saturday. If it’s a matter of adjustments for Scott Brooks, I think the he and his staff know what needs to be done.
The Sharp Pick
The Spurs have now lost five games in a row at OKC both SU and ATS, and I see the trend continuing on Saturday. The Thunder might counter the Spurs’ small lineup with one of their own, bringing in Caron Butler for Kendrick Perkins, and playing Durant at the 4, and Ibaka at the 5. This would force a mismatch on Diaw, or Matt Bonner having to defend the smaller Caron Butler, which might open up some shots. They might even be forced to guard Durant when Leonard is not in the game.
theme of this series has been the losing coach making a starting lineup change, or a minutes adjustment, and even though he hasn’t been playing that badly,
Perkins' inability to guard multiple positions hurts the Thunder defense when
the Spurs go small. In the first two games without Ibaka, the Spurs got
anything from inside, and have found a way to do that again by
running Duncan at the center position,and forcing the Thunder’s only rim
protector to defend Duncan further away from the basket.
Either way it goes, I think the Thunder are still the best NBA pick here. The Spurs have not faired well against the Thunder in Oklahoma. The Spurs are also only 5-12 SU and 4-12-1 ATS in their last 17 games against the Thunder overal. Also for some reason, the Spurs have been really bad this postseason on the road ATS. In their last eight road games these playoffs, the Spurs are only 1-7 ATS. As long as the Thunder bring their defense with them at home, they should cover this spread and force a game seven. In four games at Oklahoma City this season, (two in the regular and two in the postseason) the Spurs are averaging less than 93 points per game on the road against the Thunder.
My Free NBA Pick: Thunder -3 ½