Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is here. Will the Spurs continue their rampage and cover as favorites as well? Find out where we have decided to place our NBA picks in what could be the best matchup of the NBA playoffs.
As many thought, it's Oklahoma City and San Antonio, the two
top-seeded teams in the west, that are the last two standing out Western conference.
The Spurs, who got the number one spot, earned home-court
advantage and they'll try to get out to a fast start in this tough series.
They're favored by five-and-a-half points and are a staggering 35-12-4 ATS in
their last 51 games as home favorites.
Oklahoma City comes in having covered in three of their last
four road matchups, though they are just 1-3-1 ATS in their past five contests
We'll admit the Thunder have their own Big Three now, but
the depth of the Spurs is no joke.
Oklahoma City brings James Harden off the bench and he's
been excellent, but San Antonio counters with a healthy Manu Ginobili and then
five other guys who can all contribute too. There are so many solid players in
the rotation that DeJuan Blair, who began the season as a starter, played only
three total minutes in the series win over the L.A. Clippers. In all, the Spurs
bench is averaging 47.4 percent shooting and an amazing 41.7 points per game.
Prepare for a wild ride
The two pressing issues for San Antonio? Handling Kevin
Durant and Russell Westbrook. How the Spurs face these matchups in Game 1 will tell us a lot about what to expect from this series.
Well, there's no getting around the fact that Kevin Durant should
be a force. He'll be guarded mostly by Kawhi Leonard, and while Leonard has
become the team's best perimeter defender, he's still coming up against the
league's top scorer.
Westbrook has been awesome as well throughout the
postseason, but so too has Tony Parker, minimizing one of OKC's big advantages.
Parker made Chris Paul look like a punk in the second round and has the
quickness to keep up with Westbrook.
Obviously the Thunder's scoring is compacted into three main
sources, but the Spurs get it from everywhere.
As a team they're hitting 49.1 percent from the field and
42.3 percent from beyond the arc so far in the postseason. Parker, Ginobili,
Leonard, Danny Green, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner can all hit the long ball and
that's going to be difficult for the Thunder to stop.
In terms of coaching, both teams are set. However, again the
edge goes to San Antonio.
Scott Brooks is a great young coach, but few compare to
Gregg Popovich. He's brought four NBA championships to the city and deservedly
won Coach of the Year honors this season for his excellent work in creating
this well-oiled machine.
Make home court count
The Spurs won two of the three regular season meetings
against the Thunder, including one in Oklahoma City. In the only meeting in San
Antonio, Popovich's team won 107-96 as Tony Parker went off for 42 points on
16-of-29 shooting while also handing out nine assists.
In recent history, San Antonio's fared extremely well
against OKC. In the last nine head-to-head matchups, the Spurs have gone 8-1 SU
and 7-2 ATS.
These guys aren't only beating teams, they're demolishing
them. Throughout the playoffs, the Spurs have a point differential of +13.7 and
only the Miami Heat (+10.0) are close in that regard.
No doubt this will be one hell of a series, with Oklahoma
City sure to bring the heat, but for Game 1 we are liking San Antonio to cover the number asked for by the NBA odds makers.
FREE Pick: San Antonio Spurs -5.5
Thunder are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 road games
Thunder are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall
Spurs are 22-4-1 ATS in their last 27 home games
Spurs are 39-11-4 ATS in their last 54 games overall
OVER is 4-0 in the last 4 head-to-head meetings
Spurs are 7-2 ATS in the
last 9 head-to-head meetings