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Spurs vs. Thunder

NBA Playoffs

Game 3 Betting Preview

5/31/12

The top-seeded San Antonio Spurs will bring a 20-game winning streak to Oklahoma City for Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals against the second-seeded Thunder.  The Spurs have gone 16-3-1 against the spread during that stretch, split evenly between the regular season and playoffs.  San Antonio is 7-3 ATS in starting a perfect 10-0 in the postseason.
 
The big question is, can the Thunder finally stop the Spurs and get back into this series after losing the first two games?  Two of the games San Antonio has failed to cover in the playoffs were on the road, although both happened in Game 4.  The Spurs won each of their previous Game 3s by double digits while Oklahoma City (-3.5) is 2-3 ATS in five home games.
 
The key for the Thunder is preventing easy baskets by playing better defense.  Neither of these teams is very physical, but Oklahoma City needs to use its bigger frontcourt players better and keep San Antonio from getting good scoring opportunities inside.  One way for the Thunder to do that is to make the Spurs guard power forward Serge Ibaka and center Kendrick Perkins, who have both failed to make an impact in the series so far.  Ibaka and Perkins combined for 11 points on 4 of 16 shooting in Game 2 and made just 3 of 6 attempts from the free-throw line.
 
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden scored 88 of Oklahoma City's points in a 120-111 loss in Game 2, and they are proof that an effective "Big Three" still can't beat a balanced San Antonio team that looks primed to win its fifth NBA championship.  The Thunder lost three straight games only once during the regular season and need to use their home crowd as motivation while remembering how close they came to winning Game 1.
 
Holding San Antonio in check is obviously much easier said than done, but Oklahoma City must make a strong effort to hold its opponent under 100 points.  In their last two losses, the Spurs scored just 84 points, and they have scored more than 100 in eight of their 10 playoff wins.  In the other two, they failed to cover the 7.5-point spread in an 87-81 Game 4 victory against the Utah Jazz and beat the five-point line in a 96-86 Game 3 win at the Los Angeles Clippers.
 
The Thunder have proven they can win ugly, holding the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks to 100 points or less in all nine of their previous postseason games before this series started.  They will need to find a way to revert back to that pattern if they are going to end San Antonio's incredible streak and then possibly head back on the road for Game 5 tied at 2-2.
 

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