- PG: Tony Parker
- SG: Danny Green
- SF: Kawhi Leonard
- PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
- C: Tim Duncan
Game 5 Pick & Preview of Spurs vs Thunder
The San Antonio Spurs may not have anticipated a dog fight, but that’s precisely what they’re getting from the Oklahoma City Thunder in their round two playoff series. Things have gotten very interesting very quickly, as OKC squeaked out a tough road win in game two and in game four left no doubt that this was going to be a series by running away late to force a 2-2 tie.
San Antonio still feels like the better overall team in this series and they have a ton going for them, but OKC is officially scary. The series could very well shift back in the Spurs’ favor with Tuesday night’s game give going down in San Antonio, but there’s little doubt that we could be headed for close, hard-fought battles for the remainder of this series.
Can Oklahoma City come in and steal a second road win, or will the Spurs stand their ground and take back control of the series? Game five awaits.
San Antonio Spurs Team Preview
The Spurs saw their offense disappear in a game two home loss, while they arguably got burned pretty bad by the refs. Their loss in game four was more on them, however, as they did not get the job done down the stretch and really didn’t have much of an answer for Bill Donovan’s pairing of Enes Kanter and Steven Adams to close out the game.
If that lineup remains effective, it could be bad news for big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who seemed to struggle a bit with Kanter’s size after roasting the Thunder through the first few games. It’s unlikely he gets stifled for long by a guy who traditionally is not a great defender, but Kanter showed improved form and physicality on the defensive end in game four and if it keeps up, it could be an interesting narrative for the rest of the series.
The bigger point for the Spurs is that this can’t be about Ridge or any one guy. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been a total ace on both sides of the court and has even complained a bit about the physicality the Thunder are getting away with, but he and the rest of the Spurs need to man up and find a way to get back to sharing the basketball and hitting open looks. They haven’t been able to execute like they’re used to on a consistent basis, and that’s a huge testament to OKC seemingly adjusting and evolving into a better defensive team over night.
Of course, the biggest issue of all may be the disappearing act of Tim Duncan, who has been a total ghost throughout this series. Tony Parker, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili have all been erratic thus far, but at least have found ways to pick their spots. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Duncan liven up and have a huge game five at home to get the Spurs trending back in the right direction. In fact, he may have to.
|5/8/16||at Thunder||Lost 111-97|
|5/6/16||at Thunder||Win 100-96|
|5/2/16||VS Thunder||Lost 98-97|
|4/30/16||VS Thunder||Win 124-92|
|4/24/16||at Grizzlies||Win 116-95|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
The Thunder are in a very interesting spot after securing their game four win, especially when you look back at their crushing game one blowout loss. They were basically left for dead after that game, and since then they’ve been involved in three very good games and stole two of them.
We know OKC can score, we know both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are virtually unstoppable, we know they can get road wins and we also know – at least so far – that in the right situation, they can even defend.
If Enes Kanter is actually going to randomly be the defensive force he was to close out game four, the Thunder might seriously have something here. Of course, that still takes Serge Ibaka out of the equation and it’s highly arguable whether or not that’s the best move. So far, Billy Donovan’s chess game has kept the Thunder in this and at least for the moment gives them an interesting defensive edge.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
San Antonio is the king of countering and they get to make their move in San Antonio, though, so odds are Kanter gets marginalized and the Thunder may have to find a different way to take out the Spurs. Their depth could come into play, and that might not be the worst thing with Randy Foye stepping up with some nice moments in game four. Ridding themselves of the inexperienced Cameron Payne for game five and beyond may be crucial for OKC, who would have loved him to exude the confidence he displayed during his rookie regular season, but he’s since fallen flat.
More than anything, of course, this game is about Kevin Durant. Everyone keeps wondering when the last game will be with him in an OKC uniform and for this specific series, they’re curious to see if Kawhi Leonard will get the best of him. If the Thunder are going to win in game five, the latter certainly can’t be the case.
|5/8/16||VS Spurs||Win 111-97|
|5/6/16||VS Spurs||Lost 100-96|
|5/2/16||at Spurs||Win 98-97|
|4/30/16||at Spurs||Lost 124-92|
|4/25/16||VS Mavs||Win 118-104|
Spurs vs. Thunder Preview
The Thunder are here and they need to be given serious credit for not just sticking around, but potentially giving the Spurs a serious run for their money. They could have caved after getting their butts handed to them in game one, yet they dug deep and have been a problem for San Antonio ever since.
|5/8/16||Thunder 111, Spurs 97|
|5/6/16||Spurs 100, Thunder 96|
|5/2/16||Thunder 98, Spurs 97|
|4/30/16||Spurs 124, Thunder 92|
|4/12/16||Spurs 102, Thunder 98 (OT)|
|3/26/16||Thunder 111, Spurs 92|
|3/12/16||Spurs 93, Thunder 85|
A huge reason why is clutch play late, a few lucky breaks and surprisingly decent defense. The aforementioned move to using Kanter late plays a huge hand in that, while the Thunder are also hitting nearly 50% of their shots from the floor. That offense has been alive and well lately and when you add an improving and competitive defense to the table, things get weird.
Of course, the series does shift back to San Antonio on Tuesday, where the Spurs went 40-1 during the regular season. OKC did win there in game two, but this series so far has been very back and forth (Spurs, Thunder, Spurs, Thunder) and if there is a sore spot for the Thunder, it’s their consistency and ability to close on the road.
As far as a strict matchup, the Thunder have found creative ways to mess with the Spurs and could very well be a problem again in game five if they can come out with the same intensity and focus they’ve been showing lately.
|Win/Loss||67-15 (27-14 away)||55-27 (32-9 at home)|
Recommended Game 5 Bet
The bet is for OKC to beat the spread, but if you want a straight up pick, we like the Spurs. The last three games have favored OKC in the sense that they either won or were at least close until the end. Given KD’s impact lately, it’s unlikely the Thunder just get blown off the court in such a huge game.
That being said, this is San Antonio’s series to lose still, they were dominant at home to the point where they tied the best mark ever, they boast more veteran playoff experience and on paper they exhibit more balanced and deadlier defensive chops. OKC absolutely could come in and shock the world, but it’s unlikely. Logic points to a very close game, but the Spurs pulling it out in the end. We’ll take the Spurs by five, making OKC a solid pick against the spread on Tuesday.
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