By Charles Jay
The San Antonio Spurs came seconds away from winning an NBA championship last season, to the point where Miami Heat fans were walking out of the arena, dejected. But the ultimate victory slipped away from them, and now, as NBA bettors know, the mission is to get back to the Finals, whether it is against the Heat or the Indiana Pacers, but to get there the Spurs have to navigate their way past the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is something that has been problematic for this club, given the recent results.
Game 1 gets underway on Monday night at 9 PM ET, with the Spurs laying some points:
San Antonio Spurs -5.5
Oklahoma City Thunder +5.5
Over 209 points -110
Under 209 points -110
The Spurs may be favored in this series, but the Thunder has demonstrated in the recent past that it has been able to exploit some matchup advantage, by virtue of the fact that they have won four straight (this season) and ten of the last twelve seasons. Styles make matchups, and in this case maybe the Thunder has a style edge.
But then, how does the injury to Serge Ibaka figure into the whole thing? Ibaka has a calf strain that is serious enough to keep him out of the entire playoffs. The problem with losing somebody like Ibaka is that he is the guy who alters shots from players coming down the lane. He offers an athletic defensive presence in the paint. At the same time, Ibaka also, from time to time, helps to relieve one of the difficulties OKC often faces, which is to find a third scoring option behind Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Durant, as NBA bettors well know, was the league’s leading scorer again this season and was finally rewarded for his efforts with an MVP award. Part of the rationale was that Durant was able to pick up the slack while Westbrook had a lengthy injury absence as he underwent yet another procedure on his knee. And he went on this roll where he scored at least 25 points for 41 consecutive games.
VietBet customers recognize that Westbrook might be the most dynamic offensive player in the NBA, but it is a double-edged sword. He is a point guard, yet his function does not appear to include making other players better. In that way he is not “pure.” In fact, Westbrook all too often comes down the court with the ball and shoots without distributing it – something that is referred to by some writers as the “one-man offense.” When he gets into that kind of pattern, the Thunder becomes a lot easier to defend. And without Ibaka, will they have enough in the way of “putbacks” when they miss?
NBA bettors may expect that there will be any number of combinations Oklahoma City will use up front, and these may include having Nick Collison or Steven Adams alongside of Perkins, or in his stead, or even going to a smaller lineup that might place Durant in the “4” position (power forward), with Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson joining Westbrook in a three-man backcourt, plus a center. How would this work for the team on defense? Who would somebody like Durant guard? Tim Duncan?
Those are just some of the questions that VietBet patrons are asking as Oklahoma City seeks to turn back one of the league’s great franchises and get back to the NBA Finals themselves, perhaps against the Heat, which beat them two seasons ago. San Antonio is one of those teams that will riddle an opponent if it is not disciplined enough to deal with the Spurs’ ball movement. And being swept in the regular season is not necessarily a harbinger as to what is going to happen in the playoffs, as Miami showed against Brooklyn.
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