NBA Playoff Preview: Why You Should Bet on Oklahoma City
When the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder meet in the second round of the NBA playoffs this year, they do so having dispatched their opponents (Memphis and Dallas, respectively) fairly easily in the first round. With Golden State losing Steph Curry for at least another week and a half, and with both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the shelf for the duration of the postseason, this is a time when the winner of this series can really feel good about getting all the way to the NBA Finals. Let’s talk about why you should bet on the Thunder to emerge from this series. Find out the latest NBA lines here.
NBA Playoff Preview: Why You Should Bet on Oklahoma City Thunder to Beat San Antonio Spurs
The speed of Russell Westbrook
It’s pretty much a given that Russell Westbrook will be quicker than whichever Spur is guarding him. While San Antonio has a host of strengths, speed in their backcourt is not one of them. It’s also possible that Westbrook will be able to beat LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan to the spot when they roll over to help, drawing contact or pulling other players free for a Westbrook pass. When a defense is solid, it can keep the ball within particular parts of the floor. Westbrook shreds those plans by zipping through possible traps and getting to spots first. It’s likely that Westbrook will be able to torch such players as Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
The choice to key on Tony Parker
Waiters was able to make the Dallas Mavericks look silly with his shooting, but he hasn’t had that effect much this year. So the Thunder should focus their backcourt defensive resources on Parker, who has not been that solid the past couple of years, especially on defense. His slower feet have made it easier for such driving players as Waiters to get to the whole frequently. The backups there would be Ginobili and Mills, so the Spurs do not have an option in that situation. So putting Westbrook on Parker should result in a dominant matchup on both ends of the floor.
The Spurs’ poor outside shooting
When it comes to offense, the Spurs have become a team that relies on their interior game. So it’s Kawhi Leonard creating inside, LaMarcus Aldridge posting up, and then the passes going out and in to keep the ball moving. Most of the time, the Spurs only have two good shooters on the floor. If the Thunder can keep a solid eye on those shooters and then have their defense slide under the screens and cuts, they actually solidify their own defense. So you make some iffy shooters jack up from the outside and let it go if they make a few here and there.
The dominance of Serge Ibaka
Ibaka was terrific in the first round, shooting 64.1% from the floor and 61.5% from downtown. Obviously, Dallas didn’t play as tough a defense as San Antonio will represent. However, having Ibaka as a third scoring option and a pounding force inside will make a significant impact on the series.