“I’m the greatest power forward
in the game!”
If Tim Duncan wasn’t the antithetical Richard Sherman, this is something that he could have very well been screaming after his Game 1 performance on Monday night. Duncan had a smooth 27 points, and he scored his first 21 of them in only 17 minutes of action. The guy was getting anything he wanted last night, and the absence of Serge Ibaka is apparently going to mean a lot more to this series than some people were predicting. His absence has left a gaping hole in the Thunder’s paint defense, and the Spurs are taking advantage of it.
Not only was Duncan dominant last night, but the Spurs in general were getting what they wanted around the basket. It starts with the insane mismatch at point guard. Russell Westbrook is simply an average defender, and Tony Parker is blowing by him on every trip down the court, and that’s with a bum hamstring. Westbrook is doing the same thing to Parker on the other end, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
For the Spurs, not only are they getting to the lane, but when they do it forces the Thunder defense to collapse, which leaves wide open shooters on the perimeter. The Spurs shot over 50% from the three-point line in Game 1, and although I doubt they shoot that well again, they are making OKC’s defense look silly without Ibaka in the middle.
The Sharp Pick
All of this considered, I don’t think we need to go away from the over any time soon. Without Ibaka, the Thunder have very little defense to speak of, and after easily cashing the over in Game 1, I’m willing to go back to it again. The mismatches on the perimeter are too much to account for. Not only are Westbrook and Kevin Durant bad matchups for the Spurs, but on the flip side. Parker and Kawhi Leonard are making the Thunder super stars work on the defensive end, and it’s showing. Leonard was great with 16 points, 6 boards and 3 steals in Game 1, while Parker had a double-double on 50% shooting.
The over has now cashed in three of the last four times these two have played one another this season, and for the Spurs, the over has now cashed at 9-4 this postseason. The over has also been a very profitable wager with the Spurs all season. San Antonio might have been too diverse and versatile on offense for the Thunder with Ibaka on the floor, but without him, this series is apparently not going to have much defense from either side.
As an underdog both this regular and postseason, the Thunder are 11-7 cashing the over after Game 1, and also after the last game, the Thunder improved to 8-6 cashing the over this postseason. Look for another fast paced game with a lot of dribble drives and kicks for high efficiency offense. Even though the total has risen to 210 ½, it still seems reasonable to expect a high scoring game on Wednesday.
My Pick: 'Over' 210 ½