NBA playoffs betting: Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs, Game 1
While the Eastern Conference playoffs haven’t gone quite to form – thanks largely to the injury to Bulls star Derrick Rose – the Western Conference’s postseason has been chalk and the top-seeded Spurs host the No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder for Game 1 of the West Finals on Sunday. San Antonio is a 5.5-point favorite on WagerWeb.com.
These two clubs have been the most dominant by far in the playoffs. San Antonio easily swept Utah and the L.A. Clippers, winning six of those eight games by double digits (covering in those six). The Spurs are on an obscene 18-game winning streak. San Antonio is just the fourth team under the current playoff format to sweep each of the first two rounds of the postseason. That might not be as great as it sounds. Each of the previous three lost in the following round.
Oklahoma City was nearly as good, sweeping out the Dallas Mavericks in the first round and then taking apart the L.A. Lakers in five games in the conference semis – it’s fair to say, probably, that the Thunder played two much better opponents than the Spurs did. This is the second visit in a row to the West Finals for OKC, which lost to Dallas last year.
This game will match a Big 3 on each side: San Antonio’s Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan and the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden. Most will focus on the point guard matchup between Parker and Westbrook, but the decider could well be the frontcourt matchup of Duncan and Boris Diaw vs. OKC’s Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
While Parker has become the Spurs’ best player, the 36-year-old Duncan remains the team’s undisputed leader. He is playing his best basketball in years, largely due to the late-season addition of Diaw, a superb passer and capable mid-range shooter who is a perfect fit for the Spurs’ offensive attack. When Duncan and Diaw were on the court together for 10 games during the regular season, the Spurs outscored their opponents by a whopping 19.5 points per 36 minutes. That number has increased to 20.1 points per 36 minutes in the playoffs. But Perkins and Ibaka are more tenacious, physical and versatile defenders than the Jazz and Clippers frontcourt pairs that Duncan and Diaw faced in the first two rounds.
These teams played three times during the season and none of the three was very close, with the Spurs winning the final two meetings, including one in OKC. It should be noted that Ginobili sat out all three games. San Antonio has been installed as a -200 series favorite on WagerWeb.com.