NBA Playoff Pick: Warriors vs. Spurs Game 4 Odds and Prediction

by Kevin Roberts
on May 22, 2017

The intense series we’re supposed to get in the 2017 Western Conference Finals has yet to arrive. The San Antonio Spurs teased us with a 25-point lead at the Oracle Arena in game one, but succumbed to a classic Golden State rally and haven’t been in this series ever since.

That’s not a completely fair assessment of this series, of course, as Kawhi Leonard missed parts of the series opener with a bad ankle injury and has yet to return to the floor. Head coach Gregg Popovich didn’t sound overly optimistic that Leonard – with the Spurs down 3-0 and facing elimination – would make it back in time for Monday night’s game four in San Antonio:

This could be another version of the Spurs waving the white flag, as the odds of San Antonio storming back from a 3-0 hole to advance to the 2017 NBA Finals feels bleak. Depending on which NBA betting sites you play at, their odds look really bleak.

Over at Bovada the Spurs have ridiculous +100000 odds to win this year’s title. That would surely take a return to action for Leonard, as well as an unprecedented four-game run in this series.

The more realistic expectation is the Warriors either winning game four and ending this thing tonight with a 4-0 sweep, or the Spurs mustering enough courage to make one final stand at home before bowing out on the road in game five. An actual comeback by San Antonio is hardly worth a flier bet, even with their insane odds.

We’re still left looking at game four and wondering if this is it for a Spurs team that shocked us all by whooping these Dubs in the first game of the year, or if they can at least steal a game or two to put some heat on their Western Conference rivals. Judging by game three, it’s not impossible to look for a Spurs upset win.

There is actually a decent amount working in San Antonio’s advantage here, as they’re at home, the Warriors probably are in coast mode with a 3-0 lead and they have virtually nothing to lose as sharp 11.5-point underdogs.

Does that mean the Spurs are worth your money on Monday? Let’s take a closer look to find out:

Golden State Warriors (-11.5)
VS
San Antonio Spurs (+11.5)
Total: 216

We get a really nice spread here for either side, as the Warriors have twice covered this exact spread, but San Antonio has shown enough fight in two out of three games that they could be worth playing as a nice ATS pick.

The big kicker here is the fact that Kawhi Leonard won’t be playing. That’s a huge blow, as Leonard can play a huge hand in stifling any of Golden State’s top scorers and his defensive impact naturally has a domino effect. Leonard’s defense can stop Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant to a certain extent, which allows for Danny Green to have the pressure eased off of him a bit with his assignment.

Without Leonard, the Spurs just can’t hope to contain Golden State and that’s really what we’ve seen through three games. The Warriors had most of their huge second half rally without a healthy Leonard on the floor in game one, they cruised past the Spurs in game two and despite getting more of a game from San Antonio than some expected in game three, the Dubs still put up 120 points and shot 54% from the floor and 40% from long range.

It doesn’t matter where you’re playing; that defensive efficiency simply will not do.

The Spurs did all they could to match wits with the Warriors in their last meeting, as they shot 47% as a team and got strong performances from Manu Ginobili (21 points off the bench) and Jonathon Simmons, but they were shaky from outside (23%) and go an up and down performance from big man LaMarcus Aldridge.

We said going into game three the Spurs probably needed Leonard to win, but if certain things went right, they’d have a chance at home. One was their team defense performing better and that clearly didn’t happen. The other was Ridge taking over offensively and while he tried, he missed 10 shots on the night and then wasn’t as effective as needed on the defensive end of the court.

The third big key was whether or not the Spurs could get their other role players to step up and take on bigger scoring roles. Simmons at least tried to do that (14 points) and Ginobili was fantastic, but San Antonio got little help elsewhere. Patty Mills and Danny Green specifically came up short, as the two guards played over 64 minutes in game three, yet shot a combined 5 for 21 and chipped in 14 total points.

Part of San Antonio’s offensive struggles naturally have to do with Golden State’s defense. Klay Thompson continues to be one of the best two-way guards in the league, while Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have both been nasty defenders in this series. That’s kept the Spurs from really blowing up on the outside, but they do have shooters and putting up such a poor effort from the outside on their home court was rather disappointing.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how we can (or why we should) expect anything different as we approach game four. Aldridge has shown us he can be a big impact player for the Spurs, but carrying the entire team just isn’t something he’s either up to or capable of. More specifically, doing so with Draymond Green giving him fits and the rest of the San Antonio’s defense letting him down just doesn’t seem possible.

Ridge not rising up and playing beyond what he’s shown has been disappointing, but it’s not really unexpected. The Spurs shifted their system to a Kawhi Leonard-based offense and to hope for them to suddenly become the ball-sharing team they used to be just isn’t realistic. Leonard thrives as an ISO scorer and creator for this offense, and when you take him and Tony Parker out of the equation, the Spurs are predictably bound to struggle on both ends of the court.

There isn’t anything the Spurs can do to salvage this series, so even though one last gasp home win is possible, we’re not exactly banking on it. We’ll take the Dubs to end it now and move on to the NBA Finals for the third year in a row.

Betting Value: Spurs hold strong value (+650 Moneyline at Bovada) but the Dubs smell blood in the water, so we’re taking the Dubs and targeting the Over.
Pick

Warriors
116
Spurs
104
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