NBA Picks: Stay On Spurs' Bandwagon For Game 2 Vs. Thunder

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 2, 2016 1:00 PM UTC

Monday, May. 2, 2016 1:00 PM UTC

I expected a very competitive Western semifinal series between second-seeded Spurs and No.3 Thunder. But Game 1? Not competitive at all. The Spurs are -7½ points for Monday's Game 2 NBA odds.

Thunder Simply Overwhelmed
Oklahoma City lost Game 1 124-92, looking nothing like the team that largely dominated Dallas in the first round. Then again, the Spurs have a way of doing that to teams. Kevin Durant's postseason shooting troubles continued as he was 6-for-15 for just 16 points as Danny Green did a terrific defensive job on him. Russell Westbrook was 5-for-19 for 14 points. The only way the Thunder beat the Spurs is likely if those two combine for at least 50 points a night. Starting shooting guard Andre Roberson had as many points in 20 minutes of Game 1 as I did: zero. The Thunder shot 41.2 percent overall and 6-for-23 from long range.

Thunder center Steven Adams said that the Spurs simply played with more intensity than the Thunder did. Here's one statistic that bears that out: The Spurs averaged just 10.6 transition points per game this season, which was the fourth fewest in the NBA. But they had 12 in the first quarter alone. OKC had none and trailed by 23 after one quarter. You can't give a defensive team as good as San Antonio those easy buckets on offense, that's for sure. The Thunder also fouled four 3-point shooters in the game, which is unforgivable. They had 20 possessions in which not a single pass was made; i.e. terrible ball movement.

But maybe we should have seen this coming as the Thunder usually struggle in San Antonio. They have beaten the Spurs once in six games at the AT&T Center in the postseason -- in Game 5 in the 2012 West Finals. The average margin of those losses has been 25.1 points.

San Antonio largely fired Coach Scott Brooks because of his playoff failures. Now we see what kind of adjustments first-year NBA coach Billy Donovan makes. Oklahoma City is +600 on NBA odds to win the series. If the Thunder get swept in this series, I think it's more likely that Durant leaves as a free agent. He has now been held to fewer than 20 points in two playoff games after being limited to fewer than 20 points once in 72 regular-season outings.

The Thunder are 1-2 in franchise history in the game after a 20-point loss in the postseason. That lone win was in the 2014 West Finals against San Antonio. The Spurs won Game 2 112-77 and then OKC won the next game 106-97.


Spurs Rarely Missed In Game 1
San Antonio never trailed and its largest lead in Game 1 was 43 points, the team's biggest lead ever in a playoff game in the Gregg Popovich era. The Spurs improved to 8-0 in Game 1s after a sweep in the previous series under Popovich. LaMarcus Aldridge was fabulous in the opener with 38 points on 18-for-23 shooting. He played just under 30 minutes, and his 38 were the most points scored by a player who played 30 or fewer minutes in a playoff game in the shot clock era (since 1954-55). They were also the most by a Spur in the playoffs since Tony Parker scored 43 against the Mavericks in 2009.

Leonard had 25 points (10-for-13 shooting), five rebounds and five assists in just 22 minutes -- while harassing Westbrook all night. Westbrook was 3-for-16 shooting with a turnover when Leonard was the primary defender. Aldridge and Leonard outscored Durant and Westbrook by 33 points.

Parker had only two points but 12 assists and no turnovers in his 27 minutes. Danny Green hit 6-for-7 from the field for 18 points. All the Spurs starters got the fourth quarter off. I suppose if you are a Thunder backer and want to be a glass half-full guy, it's nearly impossible that San Antonio will shoot 60.7 percent from the field again. San Antonio’s starters shot 73.6 percent, the second-best shooting night for any group of starters in the past 30 years.

The Spurs are 25-4 in best-of-seven series after winning Game 1 in the Popovich era. They are now -800 on NBA picks to win this series. Give the points, go 'under.' The Spurs are 7-1 ATS in their past eight conference semifinal games. The 'under' is 14-6-1 in OKC's past 21 following a double-digit loss. The 'under' is 20-8 in San Antonio's past 28 following a win. 

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Free NBA Pick:  Spurs -7½ &Under 202 -110
Best Line Offered:  at HeritageBovada

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