It was a bit of a melancholy end to the season for the San Antonio Spurs. Nobody ever expected them to win this series against the Golden State Warriors and things took a darker turn when Spurs head coach Greg Popovich lost his longtime wife, Erin to illness. The Spurs were the emotional favorite as Popovich left the team after game two to be with his family. But this is the NBA and the season must continue and San Antonio losing this series was inevitable. Last night the inevitable become a reality as the Spurs lost game five 99-91 to end their season.
The game was actually a much closer one than many had expected it to be and the Spurs covered the ten-and-a-half-point number, just barely. This series has been a very tough one to bet as there were so many extenuating circumstances. You had the Spurs playing without their best player in Kawhi Leonard, and without their coach, after game two. And then you had the Warriors without their best player in Steph Curry. Throw in the emotional loss of coach Pop’s wife and this series was all over the place. In the end, the Warriors took care of business like we all knew they would, and it is on to the second round for the Dubs. For today’s pick, I will look at game five between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Utah Jazz are in Oklahoma City Wednesday night looking to close out their first-round series with the Thunder. The Jazz have dominated the series after losing game one in OKC. Utah took care of business at home in game four, taking the game 113-96. The win put the Thunder’s backs to the wall tonight at home. The Thunder are -3.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 207 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM PST from Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Utah Jazz haven’t lucked their way through this series. They have been the much better team. They upset OKC on the road in game two and have covered the spread in both games at home so far. This hasn’t been a case of a team running lucky and taking the lead in a series. This was a case of the better team, that was playing much better entering the playoffs, asserting its dominance. A big reason for this success has been the emergence of Donovan Mitchell.
The rookie has been transcendent in this series. Mitchell had a great rookie campaign. He averaged over twenty points a game and snatched down four boards and dished out close to four dimes a game. Those are some great numbers for a guy that was selected just thirteenth in the draft and ended up getting traded on draft night. In this series, Mitchell is averaging nearly thirty points a game and has doubled his rebounding at almost nine boards a game. Mitchell is truly turning into a superstar in a series filled with them.
I let Russel Westbrook convince me that the Thunder were going to win game four. He was pissed off and seemed so motivated that I didn’t see him getting denied. Turns out the emotion played against him and he struggled with turnovers all game long, and the Thunder got blown out. I expect that emotion will get the better of him again tonight. This guy hates to lose, almost to much, and it will hurt him tonight.
This series has been dominated by the Jazz, and I see no reason why that won’t continue tonight. It is always tough to bet against a home team facing elimination. The hometown crowd alone will be very hard to overcome. But I just feel that the Jazz are the much better team and that OKC has mentally checked out. Carmelo looks like he is done being a productive star in the league and you can tell Paul George doesn’t like playing second fiddle to Russell Westbrook. The sooner this series ends, the sooner this failed experiment in OKC comes to an end. I am not 100% sure that the Jazz will be able to close this game out tonight, but I would be shocked if the game wasn’t a very competitive and close one that comes down to the final couple of possessions. So, I will snatch up the points tonight and play it safe.
Give me the Utah Jazz getting +3.5 points at -105 tonight!