San Antonio Spurs (-1.5, 196 o/u) at Oklahoma City Thunder
Historic regular seasons don’t count for squat in the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) learned that the hard way in Game 5 of their best-of-seven with the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS), losing just their third home game of the season – but second of the series – to fall behind 3-2. Now the Spurs need to win Game 6 in OKC tonight (8:30 PM Eastern at Chesapeake Energy Arena) to force a Game 7.
While the main characters have changed for San Antonio, this plot has played out before. Back in 2012, the Spurs took the first two from OKC before dropping the next four. This year, they held a 2-1 lead this year before getting routed 111-97 in Game 4 and then falling 95-91 in a thrilling Game 5.
Counterintuitively, the key for the high-scoring Thunder has been the defense, especially in the post. San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 39.5 points on 75-percent shooting in the first two games; that’s dropped to 21.3 PPG on 36.7-percent shooting in the last three.
The team has also been clutch late in games, outscoring the Spurs by 25 points combined in the last two fourth quarters.
San Antonio’s league-leading defense (92.9 points against per game in the regular season) has had no answer for OKC’s superstars. In Game 4, it was Kevin Durant who took over with 41 points on the night; and in Game 5, Russell Westbrook made 12 of 27 shots and led the team with 35 points.
The oddsmakers expect the Spurs to bounce back and actually have them as favorites on the road. (The game opened with San Antonio as a three-point favorite, but that was quickly cut in half.) But keep in mind that San Antonio is 3-12 ATS in its last 15 games on the road against Oklahoma City. They were also a solid, but not extraordinary, 27-14 on the road in the regular season, while the Thunder were 32-9 at home.
San Antonio will lay it all on the line tonight – that you can be sure of – but getting points with the home Thunder is the play.
Pick: OKC +1.5.
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])
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