It wasn’t as easy as Draymond might have suggested, but eventually, and after one really impressive and valiant fight, the Blazers were in fact, done. It took an absolute DAGGER from Steph in the final minutes to put the game on ice and wrap up the series in a closer-than-4-1 would indicate 4-1 victory.
Meanwhile, for at least one night (and one REALLY GOOD minute) Kyle Lowry shook off some playoff demons and led his team to a pivotal Game Five victory. Who knows who will actually suit up in Game Six as the injury list continues to outpace the active rosters, but it seems reasonable to at least question if Deng and DeRozan will be a part of the festivities in Miami. A better idea for the NBA might to be call that series right now, combine the remaining rosters and see if they can take Cleveland to Game Six… I’m not sure they would even win two games at this point…
We lost late on a few clutch spread-covering baskets by the Raptors and are now faced with another really, really tough game to handicap in the Spurs/Thunder Game Six…
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Today’s Free Pick:
San Antonio Spurs -2 at Oklahoma City Thunder (Total: 195.5)
The opportunity to look foolish avails itself readily on either side of this pick: Pick the Thunder, and you run the risk of “did you really think they smart/savvy/veteran Popovich-led Spurs would bow out easily to essentially a two-man team? Of course they rallied off the mat tonight!” sentiment.
Pick the Spurs, and you run an obvious risk of, “did you WATCH the last four games? Duncan, Manu and Parker are just dudes at this point. Just average players. That leaves Kawhi/Alderidge vs. Westbrook/KD, and who would anyone take in that matchup?? Plus the Thunder at HOME underdogs??” Easy money.
So where do we head today? We cashed a winner with OKC and the points in Game Five, as they won straight-up in San Antonio for the second straight time. And there have been a few recurrent themes in the last few games. The first is – San Antonio can NOT guard Russ. They can’t. And if you want to put Kawhi on him, KD drops 50. The second – OKC’s big men are WAY better defensively than they were all year. Enes Kanter is now competent on pick and rolls. I don’t know if something clicked or if he just ran a yearlong okie-doke on us all, but either way, he is very effective. This means he can be on the floor, making them a devastatingly effective offensive team without sacrificing defense.
The last thing is how little OKC has had to guard Parker. They have been able to guard him with bigger players without giving up the straight-line drives Parker would have created in that situation in most parts of his career. It is as if he, Duncan, and Manu all lost a critical step at the EXACT same crucial moment.
Could they muster up one more grand ole’ effort tonight? Possibly. But I get the more athletic team, the more explosive team, the team with better momentum, the home team, AND points? It’s too much to turn away.
I’ll take the Thunder to close out the series tonight in a surprising six games.