NBA Previews and Predictions 2012: Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio SpursOklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs
Tip off: 9:35 PM EST, Thurs, Nov 1st
Spread: SAS -2
M/L: SAS -130, OKC +110
The Oklahoma City Thunder begin their first game in the post-James Harden era. They sent the Sixth Man of the Year away to Houston in exchange for Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, in a move that many think will significantly weaken the Thunder. It was a downgrade done because the Thunder couldn’t afford to pay Harden the max contract he wanted. Harden got that contract this week, as the Rockets extended him for five years, $80 M.
Still, even without Harden, the Thunder still have two of the top ten players in the NBA in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Durant has led the league in scoring for the last three seasons and will be called upon to do so again with Harden no longer in the fold. Thunder GM Sam Presti still thinks the team will contend.
“With the group we have, they’ve been through a lot together and they’ve won a lot of games together. So, for us, of course we’re always going to feel like we’ve got a chance to do good things. However, I would also add that it’s never been our approach to do a lot of talking about what it is we’re going to do or who we are.”
Presti’s approach to that is fair. The team’s goals haven’t changed, and really, the chemistry and make-up of the team shouldn’t change significantly. They are still a team led by Durant and Westbrook, and Martin should be able to assume a shooter’s role off the bench, just as Harden did. Martin has averaged 26.3 points and hit 39 percent from behind the arc in his last six games against the Spurs, so if he continues his hot play against the San Antonio lineup, the Thunder will have a huge presence coming in off the bench.
The Spurs may be without their Sixth Man, too, but due to injury. Manu Ginobili missed Wednesday night’s opener in New Orleans with back spasms, and the 35 year old is showing the signs now of his declination. The Spurs were still able to come back against New Orleans and win the game by four points, but without Ginobili, they are going to have trouble against tougher team like their opponent tonight in OKC.
Tony Parker should be expected to have a big game. Over his last eight match ups with the Thunder he has averaged 24.5 points per game, and he blew up for 42 in a victory in San Antonio last year on February 4th.
Kawhi Leonard, pegged by many to have a breakout season, scored 19 in the opener. Expect Leonard’s usage to remain high while Ginobili is sidelined. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is extremely high on Leonard and has called him a better version of former Spur Bruce Bowen. The Spurs obtained Leonard at the cost of losing another former “Pop pet” George Hill. Leonard and shooting guard Danny Green are the best two young players on a Spurs team that has some young talent surrounding its aged core.
Oklahoma City Betting Trends:
Thunder are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 playing on 3 or more days rest, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 against the Western Conf, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs the Southwest, 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 following an SU win, 16-5 ATS in their last 21 on Thursday, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs teams with winning pct above .600, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs teams with winning SU records, and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 overall.
San Antonio Betting Trends:
Spurs are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 on Thursday, 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 on 0 days rest, 33-14-4 ATS in their last 51 following an SU win, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 following an ATS loss, 0-5 ATS in their last 5 vs the Western Conf, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs the Northwest division.
Make sure to get in on our paid pick plans for the 2012-13 NBA season as we dominate the books here again at Maddux!