Spurs at Thunder Game 4 Pick

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Game 4

Tuesday 9:00 EST

May 27, 2014

Game 4 Line: Oklahoma City -2

Three games into the Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder finally resemble the team that was expected to be here.

Not the team that arrived in San Antonio without their defensive MVP. Or the team that lost the rebounding battle, while allowing the San Antonio Spurs to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor in the first two games.

After the Spurs won Game 2 112-77, leaving the Thunder embarrassed, OKC was in search of any momentum that would give them some life. Well, heading into Game 3 their moment didn’t come on the court, but rather, it came when Serge Ibaka’s name was announced during pregame introductions. It was at that very moment, the Thunder knew this series was far from over, now that No. 9 was back on the floor as the Thunder’s defensive enforcer.

If the Thunder’s Game 3 performance proved anything, it’s that the Spurs are the ones who are now on their heels, having no answer for Ibaka, whose impact was felt immediately. Scoring eight points, three rebounds and two blocks in just over six minutes of play in the first quarter, it was his seven rebounds and four blocks that helped the Thunder avoid a 3-0 series hole.

The Thunder outrebounded the Spurs 52-36, but most importantly, it was Ibaka’s return to the paint that has changed the course of this series. In the first two games, the Spurs averaged 60 points in the paint. In Game 3, they scored just 40.

While San Antonio won the first two games by a combined 52 points, things were out of sync from the opening tip. With Ibaka’s return, momentum is now on the side of the Thunder, leaving the Spurs in search for some answers. The team that dominated the first two games of this series was nowhere to be found in Game 3. The floaters and layups that were falling for Tony Parker in Games 1 and 2 weren’t in Game 3. Tim Duncan shot 41% from the field, his worst percentage this series.

And although Manu Ginobili was superb in the first half, scoring 20 points, he failed to make an impact late in the game. There’s no formula needed to determine why the Spurs “Big 3”, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, go from becoming the all-time winningest trio in NBA playoff history (111 wins) to wondering if they’ll win another game this series. (Answer: See Serge Ibaka)

Although this was the third time the Thunder have dropped the first two games of a series, having never trailed 3-0, Ibaka’s Game 3 impact leaves you wondering who’d be leading the series if he had started all three games. The Thunder are used to playing with their backs up against the wall. Having won four series in which they’ve trailed, including both of the previous rounds this year, the experience they gained from that 2012 series will be the focal point going forward.

The flip has now been switched on which team has the momentum heading into Game 4. The Spurs could not have eliminated the Thunder, but this was their chance to put them in a 3-0 series hole, leaving just a glimmer of hope of becoming the first team in NBA history to comeback from that deficit. While the Spurs failed to put OKC out of their misery, the Thunder now have more than momentum on their side. They have Ibaka back in their lineup and that’s means they’ll be heading back to San Antonio with the series tied at two games apiece.

My Pick: Thunder -2

May 27, 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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