NBA Playoffs Betting: Thunder vs. Spurs

NBA Playoffs Betting: Thunder vs. Spurs

It should come as little surprise that the two teams with the best records in the West are meeting for the Conference Championship in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The Clippers, Trail Blazers, and Grizzlies all flirted with a run at the title, but none of the trio possessed the Thunder’s explosive talent, or the Spurs’ veteran depth. Oklahoma City won all four regular season meetings against San Antonio, although that carries little weight this time of year. The Nets swept the Heat, but were completely overmatched in the Eastern Semifinals. However, teams that swept their Conference Finals opponents during the season are 5-0 in league history. Here’s a breakdown of Game 1.


The calf injury suffered by power forward Serge Ibaka will likely keep him sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs. Considering he is OK City’s lone inside threat and best low post defender, his loss will be significant. Steven Adams and Nick Collison will see increased minutes, but neither has Ibaka’s athleticism. Head coach Scott Brooks may be forced to utilize a smaller lineup to counter the loss. This might be the soundest strategy against the “older” Spurs.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the league’s most dangerous scoring duo; they are averaging a combined 58 points and 17.5 rebounds per game in the playoffs and each will have to come up huge for the Thunder to advance to the Finals. Ibaka’s absence will test an already thin bench that has one reliable contributor, Reggie Jackson. Thus far, OK City has survived despite playing with a pair of useless starters in Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha. The task becomes more difficult versus the league’s deepest roster.

Is this San Antonio’s last hurrah? Seems like we’ve been asking that question for years. The trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are supposed to be on the downside of their careers, but none of them is ready to call it quits just yet. Parker is nursing a tight hamstring, but is on schedule to start. How he and the rest of the Spurs’ guards defend Westbrook will go a long way in deciding the winner of the series.

Three-time Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich is in his element. He excels devising gameplans to take away a team’s strength. Limiting Durant and Westbrook is easier said than done, but if any coach is savvy enough to get the job done, it’s Popovich. Without Ibaka’s length in the paint, expect him to attack the rim early and often. He can go nine or ten deep on his bench, which could prove problematic for a Thunder roster light on bodies. Kawhi Leonard’s defense on Durant is the matchup to watch; if he can effectively check the MVP, Popovich can concentrate on stopping Westbrook.

Spurs have won 9 straight Game 1s. Thunder are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five trips to San Antonio. Playing without Ibaka will take OK City time to adjust.

Bet San Antonio -5.5