San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder -4.5 (Total: 202)
Wow. A week ago, I think 99% of sports fans were gearing up for a Miami Heat v. San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals. The old guard against the new, the conservative versus the flashy, the traditional home-built team versus the modern free-agency assembled one.
And now we sit just one home win by each team away from delivering it.
Only it is not the two teams we were all talking about when making those statements; ironically, they still feel perfectly applicable.
After stunning road wins by both Oklahoma City and Boston last night, each is only a home Game Six win away from earning a birth in the NBA Finals. Both had enormous clutch contested three pointers late to seal the deal; one by James Harden and the other by Paul Pierce. And while those shots sealed the outcome, which always looks inevitable in retrospect; the truth is both of the games (like most of the series) could have easily gone either way. Given the competitiveness of all four teams, will the series end tonight??
The young Thunder have shown no signs of feeling the pressure of the big moment, in fact, it has been they and not the Spurs who have made big shots in clutch moments. James Harden has been ice in the closing minutes, and the dominant scoring spurts that Kevin Durant has authored is quickly putting him in the Lebron/Kobe discussion for best player in the NBA. Factor in the absolutely dizzying insanity of the crowd tonight and there are a lot of things going in the Thunder’s favor.
However, I am reluctant to bury the veteran Spurs. Yes, the Thunder looked blindingly athletic at times; however, without a few clutch shots and the James Harden broken-play, hand-in-the-face dagger three, San Antonio has the ball, down two with thirty seconds to play and a perfectly good chance to win that game. At this point, the series is going to be tight and will come down to making shots. I can’t guarantee that the Spurs will make enough shots to win tonight, but I do feel good about their ability to compete.
I expect a close game, and for both teams to play well. I think San Antonio, especially Ginobili and Tony Parker will handle the pressure of the moment well, and will even capitalize on some over-excitement that OKC will inevitably experience early in the game. Expect them to control tempo a bit better than they did for spurts of Game Five and to do a better job eliminating some of the run-outs that lead to the Thunder alley-oop show in the last two games.
I am not quite ready to go all in and say the Spurs extend the series, but I do like them getting 4.5 points.
Free Pick: San Antonio Spurs +4.5