Spurs vs Thunder Game 2 Pick

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs

Game 2

Wednesday 9:00 EST

May 21, 2014

Game 2 Line: San Antonio -6 (Subject to change. Check up-to-date odds at Bovada)

Not even Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were able to will the Oklahoma City Thunder to a Game 1 victory.

Combining for 53 points, KD and Westbrook did everything they could to keep Oklahoma City close, but it simply wasn’t enough. OKC’s two superstars already were carrying the weight of the Thunder’s championship dreams. Now without Serge Ibaka, whose absence was visibly felt in Game 1 will be asked to take their MVP-caliber games to another level in Game 2 and beyond. Even if that were to occur, Durant and Westbrook need help from their teammates, especially Thabo Sefolosha who finished scoreless and was 0-for-4 from the field. They also need help from their coach to make the right in-game decisions – opting to go with a small lineup wasn’t one of them.

If the Thunder are unable to figure out how to defend the paint, this series is destined to be over in a hurry. Outscored 66-32 in the paint by the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1, Scott Brooks has to work some magic of his own going forward. Brooks had no answer for Gregg Popovich’s Game 1 tutorial, as the Spurs shot 57.5 percent from the field, playing a near flawless game. The Spurs continue to take advantage of any opportunity they can jump on and any mismatch they can find.

During the Spurs four regular season losses to the Thunder, they averaged 41.5 points in the paint. Game 1 was a different story. Not only did Tim Duncan have his best game since Game 1 of the first round by scoring 27 points, but also without Ibaka, the Thunder’s last line of defense was without ammunition. The Thunder went from having a one-of-a-kind intimidator in the paint, to a group of ordinary men looking to replace a player that simply isn’t replaceable. In August of 2012, the Thunder signed Ibaka to a four-year, $48 million deal – not because of the scorer he can be, but for the reasons that were apparent by his Game 1 absence.

The Thunder find themselves in a position in which a second consecutive loss would mean having to defeat the Spurs 4-of-5 games in order to advance to the NBA finals. The Spurs only lost three games in a row once during the regular season. Climbing Mount Everest would be an easier accomplishment. The Thunder now have no room for error. OKC’s Game 1 performance certainly showed Ibaka’s worth to this team. Unfortunately for the Thunder, they had to find out the hard way.

On May 6th, Durant gave one of the All-time great acceptance speeches after being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. On May 21st, the Thunder are going to need Durant to have one of the greatest playoff performances of his career. Otherwise, a challenge that was already tough before the Western Conference Finals began just got a lot tougher.

Over the past two seasons, Ibaka missed only three games during the regular season, and since 2010, Ibaka never missed a playoff game, averaging 31.1 minutes per game. The Thunder are not accustomed to be playing a meaningful game without having one of the NBA’s best shot blockers on the floor. But unless Ibaka is going to have his own Willis Reed type moment, the Thunder must continue to bank on the fact that Ibaka isn’t walking through the tunnel anytime soon – certainly not in Game 2. Maybe in Game 4 or Game 5, but by then it might even be too late. Durant certainly has had a magical season, but without Ibaka, his act is finally over.

Over the last 5 home games, the Spurs are 5-0 against the spread, winning by an average of 20.6 points per game. Heading into Game 2, Durant and the Thunder could have a bounce back performance, but the Spurs have been unstoppable on the offensive end, scoring 109 points or greater in seven of their last nine games.

Before this series began, I undervalued the loss of Ibaka in selecting my Western Conference finals winner. I won’t make the same mistake twice.

My Pick: Spurs -6

May 21, 2014 by : Posted in Picks and Predictions No Comments
Adam Rosen

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Adam Rosen is a seasoned sports writer with special interests in Pro Football and Basketball. He has been picking sports games against the spread for years, and has posted a 56% win rate over his last 75 predictions.

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