Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs -5 (Total: 202)
How fantastic are this year’s Conference Finals?? For the second time in four game the Miami v. Boston series went to overtime; for the third and fourth time Miami had a chance to win a basketball game on the final possession (none successful, FYI), and for the fourth time, the home team came out on top. Overall all eight games in the NBA Conference Finals have been won by the home team, lezving us with a star-laden, drama-filled pair of 2-2 series; a pair of Best-of-Three’s to decide who will play for the Larry O’Brein Trophy.
To call tonight’s Game Five an enormous game would be an understatement. The stat are incontrovertible, the team that wins Game 5 in a 2-2 series wins the series. Nearly always.
There is an innate tendency, especially in this current sports-media 24 hour news cycle climate to become prisoners of the moment; that which we have seen most recently is absolute. We fail to remember how dominant San Antonio looked in Game Two. All we can see is Kevin Durant scoring 16 straight points in the fourth quarter and Serge Ibaka doing a delightful Hakeem Olajawon impression making Tim Duncan look like every minute of his 37 years of age.
However, here are a few stats to consider: the home team is a perfect 4-0 so far this series. With the exception of Game One in which the Spurs had to rally to win in the fourth quarter, the home team has won with relative ease and in impressive fashion. So why wouldn’t the momentum swing back San Antonio’s way tonight upon their return back to the friendly confines along the Riverwalk?
From San Antonio’s perspective, they were on the receiving end of a nearly ireplicable performance from OKC’s front court reserves. The trio of Perkins, Collinson and Ibaka shot a combined 22 of 25 from the floor. Twenty two of Twenty Five!?! That’s insane, and frankly, not happening again this series (or likely ever…)
I think Tony Parker and Coach Pop will have some adjustments for Thabo Sefolosha’s defensive pressure and will do a little more slipping off the pick and rolls. They will try to avoid getting funneled into Tim Duncan low-block iso’s and instead rely on their array of perimeter shooters finding the touch in front of a raucous home crowd.
My eyes, just like yours, can’t help but be dazzled by the brilliant athleticism and offensive explosion we witnessed the last two games from the Thunder. But avoid being a prisoner of the moment. Vegas is smart. There’s a reason why the Spurs are five point favorites. The veteran, poised, deep Spurs are back home tonight. And sometimes in the NBA Playoffs, that’s all it takes to turn a teams’ fortunes.
Free Pick: San Antonio Spurs -5