After winning two straight games to start the Western Conference Finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs looked to be clearly in the drivers’ seat for a run to the NBA finals. 20 straight wins dating all the way back to April 11th. Tony Parker controlling the game like the best-of-the-best floor generals. Tim Duncan having a renaissance of the best years of his career. It simply looked as if the Thunder had no answers for the offensive firepower of the Spurs, who were confident and firmly centered around their poised head coach Greg Popovich, their veteran talent, and the depth on the bench. However, after a trip to Oklahoma City in the past week, everything has changed for tonight’s Game 5 back in the Lone Star state. The Thunder have won 2 straight games, more games than they’ve won against the Spurs in the last three years, and have leveled the playing field for an exciting series showdown over at least the next two games, likely extending all the way to a Game 7. This is what the NBA playoffs are all about folks; two outstanding ball clubs that have battled hard on their home courts, and now face essentially best 2-out-of-3 showdown to determine who the Western Conference representative in the NBA Finals will be. With tip-off tonight set for 9:00 PM ET from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, make sure to take a good long look at all the betting lines available for this match-up, as it’s sure to be the best option for online sports betting available on Monday.
After a resounding effort in Game 3 saw the Thunder regain their confidence with a 20-point victory over the visiting Spurs, Oklahoma City then managed to play more toe-to-toe against the Spurs in Game 4, winning 109-103 on the back of Kevin Durant’s 36-point effort. The supporting cast finally stepped up, too. Led by an astonishing performance by Serge Ibaka, who was 11-for-11 shooting with 26 points, and getting 15 points and 9 rebounds from Kendrick Perkins as well, the Thunder must be feeling a new wave of confidence in the fact that they may not have to completely rely on their version of the ‘Big Three’, in the form of Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. With Nick Collison chipping in another 8 points for the Thunder big men, the combination of him, Ibaka and Perkins resulted in a 49-point effort, going 22-for-25 from the floor. Unheard of numbers can’t be expected to continue at the same pace for Game 5, with the Spurs likely to pay more attention to the Thunder frontcourt now, but this does present a great opprortunity for OKC on the road tonight, where they’ve not played their best ball during the playoffs. With more focus being pulled away from the Thunder’s top scorers, who traditionally account for north of 70 percent of scoring, OKC will be able to spread the Spurs thin once more, and will be able to compete in a high-scoring game like Game 4 was. Therefore it’s essential that Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins at the least step up to provide double-digit scoring once more, which will certainly help to balance out an offense that had been up until the two games at home, sorely lacking in depth.
The Spurs on the other hand don’t look to be changing up their game plan much after the Game 4 loss. After all, they actually had an amazing game on paper offensively, but just couldn’t contend with arguably the best supporting cast effort of this year’s NBA playoffs. San Antonio managed to shoot 50 percent from the floor in Saturday’s loss, including going 11-for-23 (47.8 pct.) from beyond the arc, and 6 players scored in double figures. However, what really stood out is the defensive effort, or lack thereof, around the basket. While the Spurs happened to win the battle of points in the paint, they were outrebounded 41-31 as the Thunder managed to have every starter pull down at least 4 rebounds, meaning that there was a letdown in blocking out around the paint for loose boards, especially while on the offensive end of the court. Though the Spurs didn’t give up too many second chance opportunities to the Thunder (7:7 offensive rebound ratio), they allowed OKC 34 defensive rebounds, which prevented the Spurs from getting their own second chances at baskets, something San Antonio has typically relied on as an advantage being bigger and more physical inside. For the Spurs to get back ahead in this series, they must do a better job controlling the glass, and work to get more second chance opportunities on the offensive end. With both teams shooting at such a high percentage, the battle of ball possessions will be a key factor in tonight’s showdown.
One big advantage the Spurs will have tonight is simply getting the game back on their own court. While the Thunder have been magnificent at home during this year’s playoff run, going 7-0 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, they are just 3-3 on the road, and undoubtedly the Spurs have been at their best in front of their home fans, winning all games played there dating to their last regular season loss on April 11th. In order for them to regain their home court advantage, the Spurs have to focus on containing the Thunder periphery, and forcing the game to fall into the hands of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden once again. It’s evident that San Antonio has enough depth and scoring presence to compete straight up with OKC provided they aren’t able to get the big nights out of the Thunder frontcourt like they did in Games 3 and 4. There has been over a 23 point combined improvement in production from Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison over the past two games, and the Spurs must slow down a couple of these players tonight, and force the game back into the stars hands. For OKC on the other hand, winning at San Antonio with a group effort would be beyond huge for their confidence, as they would head back home with a chance to finish off the Spurs in Game 6. For them to get to that point however, they are going to have to focus in on better defensive play against Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and the rest of the Spurs’ perimeter players, who no doubt will be firing away from all angles at home. San Antonio is more likely at home to retain their shooting efforts from Game 4, and without a better game plan on defense to get in the face of the top Spurs’ shooters, the Thunder will find themselves once again struggling to keep pace as the game wears on into the second half.
Betting lines for the San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at Intertops Sportsbook.
Back at home again for Game 5, the San Antonio Spurs will once again be the favorites for tonight’s match-up with the Oklahoma City Thunder, getting -230 odds to win straight up on the money line. Oklahoma City on the other hand is a -190 odds underdog, as they are tasked with the tough battle of overcoming arguably the best home team in the NBA this season.
Against the Spread, the Thunder may be getting more wagers sent their way, with +5 points given to them to play with. For Spurs pickers, the -5 points to cover is a little daunting, and will have to expect San Antonio to have another huge shooting night to outpace the Thunder by this margin. We’re expecting a tighter game like the one we saw in Game 1 for the series opener, with the final buzzer coming with one team or another winning by a 3-4 point spread.
For the total points line at Intertops, the over/under stands again at 202 points, which has been eclipsed in 2 of the 4 games played during this series. Interestingly, there has been a pattern of games trading back and forth between going under and over the limit, with Game 4 being a breakout at 212 points. If the trend continues, betting to the underside of the total points line might be the safest wager here tonight.
This match-up should without a doubt be the best opportunity for betting on sports for Monday night, so head on down to Intertops Sportsbook today, get those bets secured, and prepare for a restart to what has now become an excellent Western Conference Finals showdown!