San Antonio at Oklahoma City
Time: 7 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: OKC -8.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The San Antonio Spurs have lost five straight games and enter tonight’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder as 8.5-point underdogs. The Spurs are just 8-19 on the road this season. The over/under is set at 220 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The San Antonio Spurs is just 22-31 on the season and currently is seeded No. 10 in the West, trailing Memphis by five games for the West’s final playoff spot.
Looking at the Spurs roster, it is understandable as to why: San Antonio is led by two high-scoring veterans, but this team’s defensive outlook is nowhere near as bright, and it lacks depth unless one is to overrate the talents in it and what they have done so far.
San Antonio is giving up 114.7 points per game while scoring 113.7 itself. It has a negative point differential, a sub .500 record, and still the rough outlines of what could be a postseason team even so. It is certainly too early to write them off, at least.
The Spurs are offensively led by the two veterans DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Both post-PERs of 20-plus, but after that, the depth really thins out on this roster. Bryn Forbes has provided a boost with 11 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game, but he is really playing right at “replacement level.” The same applies to Patty Mills, whose defense is partly to blame for teams tallying so many points on the Spurs. Rudy Gay is washed up, and Dejounte Murray has been decent but the Spurs were hoping for even more.
All of this comes together to spell a team that is almost lucky to have won one-third of its games thus far in 2019-20. Without a step-up in defensive intensity, it will not even win that many moving forward. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV were all billed as potential breakout players, but none of them have broken out really.
Murray averages 10 per game, White 10, and Walker tallies just 5.6 per night. The trio was expected to lead the Spurs after Tony Parker’s regime ended, but in the two seasons since Parker left the Spurs, none of it has come to fruition, and the team is sub .500 mostly due to a lack of depth, as its primary two veterans have continued to produce.
The Thunder are surging, and the team has won eight of its last 10 games. OKC is better than expected, but perhaps it was just underestimated, to begin with.
Veterans Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder have come through, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is breaking out as the future leader of this team. Gilgeous-Alexander came courtesy of the Los Angeles Clippers, and he leads the team in minutes per game (35.4) and in scoring (19.8 per game).
Chris Paul is a steady influence at 16.3 points and 6.6 assists per game, which leads the Thunder. Steven Adams is averaging just shy of a double-double, and Nerlens Noel is functioning well as a post defender in the second unit. The Thunder probably has its work cut out for it to make the postseason, but it is not altogether out of the realm of possibility that this rebuilding team sneaks into the postseason.
With Schroder, Gallinari, and Paul, the Thunder have a veteran core mixed with the youth and the savvy defense of Adams to bring it together on the defensive end. OKC averages 108.8 points per game and limits its opponents to 107.5. In the Thunders’ most recent loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, it got 24 points and 15 rebounds out of Steven Adams. He looked better than Sixers cornerstone Joel Embiid, and Adams has the potential to do that as a player whose talents are not all translatable into statistics.
With Westbrook gone the thought was that he would be a big-time rebounder, but he seems to still be adjusting to the notion that he can grab them at will without Russ’ concerns of getting triple-doubles. Few expected the Thunder to improve after shedding a triple-double monster like Westbrook, but the balance and overall team play has made the Thunder into a formidable playoff contender.