By Charles Jay
To watch the San Antonio Spurs play these days is to almost watch a clinic on how to play fundamental basketball correctly. We are also watching the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers play for the Eastern Conference title, and an objective NBA betting observer would have to admit that the Spurs are the team that is really playing at a championship level at this moment.
The first two games of this Western Conference championship series could not have been easier for the Spurs, who are looking for a commanding 3-0 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder when they take the floor at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, with tip-off slated for 8:30 PM ET.
There is a psychological component to this third game, as the Thunder were thoroughly embarrassed in Game 2, shooting just 39% from the field and getting manhandled in the paint yet again as they lost 112-77 after a 43-14 run by the Spurs blew things wide open.
When we take a look at the NBA betting odds on this game as they have been posted at VietBet, the Thunder are laying points, which means they had better upgrade their game if they want the cover:
Oklahoma City Thunder -2.5
San Antonio Spurs +2.5
Over 208.5 points -110
Under 208.5 points -110
Right from the beginning of this series, the matchups were thought to be problematic, because of the fact that Oklahoma City was going to be down a man in the middle. Serge Ibaka is not only the NBA’s leading shot-blocker, but someone who can change the way an opponent comes down the middle. Without him, the Thunder have been helpless to deal with the Spurs as they attack the basket.
As NBA bettors have seen, San Antonio has gained an advantage of 120-74 in the paint, and that can be directly traced to OKC’s inability to offer a deterrent for those drives down the lane or post plays. VietBet patrons who were on the OKC watched in horror as Tim Duncan scored 21 first-half points in Game 1, and that was a harbinger of things to come. It’s not just the big men, but also the people like Tony Parker, who have been able to penetrate with their drives.
Maybe some people expected this, maybe some didn’t. But it appears as if Ibaka, who was originally announced to be unavailable for the playoffs, is trying to suit up and may be a game-time decision. If the Thunder goes down three games, they’re not coming back, no matter what, so there IS no tomorrow, and he will be willing to play through as much pain as he has to.
Of course, even if Ibaka finds mobility from somewhere, he is not of much use on the perimeter, where the Spurs have the ability to do some real damage. This can come from multiple sources, but in Wednesday’s Game 2 they got the firepower from someone VietBet customers recognize as one of the most dangerous streak shooters in the league. Danny Green shot almost exclusively from the three-point arc, and was wide open much of the time. He hit seven of ten from long range, and it was just part of the barrage that has the Oklahoma City defense guessing on almost every trip down the court.
Could we actually see Ibaka on Sunday night, and would such a thing take put some of the guesswork?