NBA Betting Picks: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Betting Picks:  San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

Thursday night NBA betting action features a possible preview of the Western Conference Finals as the Oklahoma City Thunder hosts the San Antonio Spurs.   These two teams met in the Conference Finals last season with the Thunder prevailing and advancing to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Miami Heat.  Currently San Antonio holds down first place in the conference with Oklahoma City in second 1.5 games behind.  After that there’s a significant gap back to third place Denver (5 games back) and the Los Angeles Clippers (6.5 games back).

At first glance, this would appear to be a hard fought matchup where taking points with the underdog is the play. In our view that is a mistake. San Antonio’s big issue in the 2012 playoffs was fatigue by their aging nucleus of superstars. Simply put, they were run off the court by the younger, more athletic Thunder. This happened despite a conscious effort by Spurs’ head coach Greg Popovich to limit the minutes of starters and even give them ‘nights off’ during the regular season–much to the chagrin of NBA Commissioner David Stern. Popovich has done the same thing this year and despite the fact that they’re playing another top contender–and despite the fact that this is a nationally televised game–there’s always the possibility that one or more of San Antonio’s starters won’t play. For this reason sportsbooks are often slow to post betting odds on San Antonio’s games due to the difficulty of ascertaining which Spurs’ players are in the lineup and who is taking the night off.

For example, here’s the tally for the last few games: Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard played on Sunday night at home against the Miami Heat but didn’t make the trip to Memphis for a Monday game at Memphis. The official reason given for both players was ‘sore knees’ and the Spurs were led by guard Tony Parker with 25 points. Parker and Kawhi Leonard sat out Wednesday’s lackluster home win over Orlando while Tim Duncan and Thaigo Splitter played fewer minutes than usual. As of early Thursday morning Parker and Leonard are listed as ‘probable’ while Stephen Jackson is listed as ‘doubtful’ after tweaking his ankle early in the game against the Magic. Dejuan Leonard missed the Orlando game with a stomach virus and is listed as ‘questionable’ for tonight’s game. Guard Manu Ginobili could be out for up to a month with a hamstring injury. And regardless of who really is or isn’t injured Popovich isn’t shy about holding his starters out or limiting their minutes just to keep them fresh for the playoffs.

Further compounding the issue for the Spurs is the fact that they’re playing their fourth game in five nights. Blindly playing against teams in this scheduling situation has been solidly profitable all season and is 19-9 against the spread since February 1. Of course it’s a bit more complicated with San Antonio due to their revolving door of active personnel. OKC, meanwhile, is on a 14-5 SU run and will come into the game well rested having not played since Saturday. The Thunder have been nasty at home this year going 32-5 SU/25-11-1 ATS and have had little trouble with the Spurs in their own building winning 7 of the last 9 meetings both straight up and against the spread. It looks like a ‘kill spot’ for a Thunder team looking to make up ground on the Western Conference leaders.