The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are two small market teams making big noise in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
The first game will be Sunday at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT. The home Spurs are listed as 5½-point favorites with a total of 204½. They’re also the very solid series favorite at -205.
The Thunder looked like the best team in the conference for most of the season. They had a 40-12 mark after playing on April 1, which was a 3-game cushion on their closest competitor in the Spurs (36-14).
San Antonio started warming up in March and never looked back. The current winning streak is 18 games, including playoff sweeps over Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers. The record in the last 31 games overall is an amazing 29-2.
The Spurs’ against the spread mark is almost equally mind-boggling at 15-2-1 in the last 18. They did fail to cover the final game against the Clippers last Sunday, 102-99 as 7½-point road favorites.
Coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder have also played very well this postseason with a sweep over defending champ Dallas and then a tough, 5-game win over the Lakers. The team is 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven games after failing to cover its first two in the postseason.
The matchups in this series are extremely interesting as they present a direct contrast in styles. Oklahoma City got a little less than 2/3rd of its scoring in the regular season from the trio of Kevin Durant (28 PPG), Russell Westbrook (23.6 PPG) and James Harden (16.8 PPG). That number is at 67.8 percent in the playoffs.
The Spurs have had incredible depth all year with a double-digit rotation. Gregg Popovich has tightened it up some in the playoffs, but still plays plenty of guys. The 4-time champion coach has settled in with a starting lineup of Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and rookie Kawhi Leonard up front, plus Tony Parker and Danny Green in the backcourt.
Note there are total trends for each team. The ‘under’ is 6-2 for the Spurs in the playoffs despite scoring a league-high 102.5 PPG. The ‘over’ finished 14-4-1 in their last 19 regular season games, scoring a whopping 110.8 PPG.
The ‘over’ is 7-2 for the Thunder in the postseason, scoring an even 100 PPG. They’ve only allowed 100 points in a game once, but have been dealing with some low totals that dropped into the high 180s in the Lakers series.
Oklahoma City won the first meeting between the teams this year (108-96 as 6-point home favorites) before San Antonio won and covered the last two. The only one in Texas was on February 4, a 107-96 Spurs win as 2½-point chalk. Parker absolutely exploded for 42 points.
The ‘over’ was 3-0 in those contests with an average total points scored of 208.7.
The big question for this series is how do the Spurs contain Durant? The NBA’s regular season leading scorer was the clutch performer in the Lakers series, a title that used to belong to Kobe Bryant. Durant will have Leonard starting on him defensively, but that will be switched up a lot.
Watch for Parker to keep attacking Westbrook on the offensive end, forcing the Thunder point guard to work both ends of the court.
The red-hot Spurs have a great mix of youth and veterans, with everyone extremely rested. Those factors, plus the Hall-of-Fame coaching of Popovich, should bring a series win in seven.