Spurs Go for 20 Straight Wins
The 2012 NBA Western Conference Finals got underway on Sunday and saw the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs win their 19th straight Game overall dating back to the regular season. The Spurs (-4.5) will go for No. 20 in a row in Game 2 on Tuesday when they host the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, who blew a nine-point lead in a 101-98 loss in Game 1 with their best defensive player on the bench.
Oklahoma City head coach SCott Brooks sat forward Serge Ibaka in the Fourth, when the Spurs outscored his team by a 39-27 margin. Ibaka finished second in NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting and had helped limit San Antonio to 16 points in the third. Brooks chose to go with a smaller lineup though that could Scoremore, but the move backfired with the Thunder up 71-62 heading into the final quarter.
The Spurs got a team-high 26 points from super sub Manu Ginobili, who did not play in any of the three regular-season meetings between the teams, and held a 50-43 rebounding edge. But they did not play well in the second and third quarters, when they were scored a total of 38 points. Other than Ginobili, point guard Tony Parker and forward Tim Duncan combined for 34 points but shot just 12 of 30 from the field. San Antonio did not play a perfect Game by any means, turning the ball over 16 times and missing twice as many free throws (eight) despite getting to the charity stripe three more times.
In Game 2, Oklahoma City needs to finish stronger behind stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who scored 27 and 17 points, respectively. Like Parker and Duncan, the duo did not shoot the ball particularly well, making just 15 of 40 from the field (38 percent). Durant and center Kendrick Perkins each had five fouls as well, limiting how well they could defend inside. The move by Brooks to bench Ibaka in the Fourth made little sense considering the circumstances, and the Thunder simply can’t afford to give away another Game if they want to win the series.
The Spurs have won nine of the last 10 meetings straight-up, going 7-3 against the spread. During their 19-Game winning streak, they are 15-3-1 ATS after failing to cover the 5.5-point line in Game 1. The OVER is still 4-1 in the past five meetings despite going UNDER in Game 1.