In one of the most exciting NBA matchups this Thursday, the Spurs will be hosting the Thunder in the AT&T Center.
Both teams have been showing steady performances as of late and have managed to climb up the Western Conference.
It wasn’t always the case, as both franchises started the season poorly because of injuries. Russell Westbrook was not available for the Thunder, whereas the Spurs had to rotate because of the loss of point guard Dejounte Murray.
Without a doubt, the main reason behind the ascent of both teams is the star players.
Paul George and Westbrook have been leading the Thunder as fans expected, whereas DeRozan and Aldridge are providing the edge for the Spurs.
Both franchises will be very eager to win this one, and I expect it will be quite the contest.
Let’s look at what the NBA betting sites are offering for the game and see if we can spot some good opportunities to make some money.
Latest Odds for Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs
Here are the odds the bookies offer for the game between the Spurs and the Thunder.
Where does the betting value lie here? Let’s take a look at both teams before moving on to my predictions for this game.
San Antonio Spurs
Pop has definitely done it again!
The team is flying in a hectic part of the regular season, and very few people expected it. They have racked up five straight wins, which has allowed them to move up to sixth in the Western Conference, just behind the Rockets and Clippers.
Looking at how some of the recent games have been won, I find some trends that will please Spurs fans.
Undoubtedly, beating the Raptors was the highlight of the month. The Toronto outfit came to San Antonio with the reputation of one of the best teams in the NBA but was ultimately bested by a great performance.
It was quite possibly the best game the Spurs have played all season. Although the spotlight is on how DeMar DeRozan hit his former team with a triple-double, we have to acknowledge the quality support he had. Derrick White and Bryn Forbes were simply superb.
The two had 39 points between them. It is astonishing how Popovich has been able to improve both players. Teams are having to use lottery picks to find that kind of backcourt, but Pop seems to be able to get that out of undrafted guys.
Defense was always going to be the problem of this Spurs roster, but there have been massive improvements on that front as well. It is not just the system that is working for the team, but the chemistry they have acquired together makes them a far better unit defensively.
As impressive as the win against the Raptors was, some people will still say that it was largely down to the home court advantage. There is some truth to that, but the recent performances of the Spurs are beginning to squash concerns that the team simply cannot perform on the road.
They have already won away against the Clippers and Pistons this year in games that highlighted how Popovich is using the depth of his roster to get results.
Take the Pistons game, for example. It may sound strange to talk about role players in a game in which Aldridge and DeRozan scored 51 between them, but I feel other players contributed largely to the win.
The Spurs took only eight rotation players to Detroit, and every single one of them played a part. Derrick White and Bryn Forbes were again impressive, knocking down a total of 32 points. Patty Mills was another one of the big contributors, scoring 13 points off the bench.
Even with the 34 points that Blake Griffin scored, the Pistons had no answer for the quality and depth of the Spurs roster. The San Antonio outfit will feel they have a winning formula now, and it is up to Pop and the players to keep this going.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma’s recent steady climb has been hampered by a shocking defeat at home against the Washington Wizards. The loss will definitely feel like a bitter disappointment, and it served to expose recurring problems the Thunder has in some outings.
First and foremost, they are turning the ball over far too many times when on the road.
Russell Westbrook had eight turnovers in that game, whereas the whole Wizards team had nine. Also, Westbrook’s shooting has been an issue for a while, but so far, Paul George’s record has kept that away from the spotlight.
However, when both are not firing, it can be a big issue. George needed 18 attempts for his 20 points against Washington, and Westbrook scored only 9 from his 23. It is evident that such field goal percentage from their main shooters cannot win them many games.
It was the Wizards’ first-ever win against Oklahoma, and it came when the team was missing three of its starting players. While a definite slap in the face of the Thunder, with the right attitude, it might even turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
There’s no way a team can win every game they are supposed to in the regular season. Experienced players like Westbrook and George know that very well. The defeat can help the team focus again on what’s been working and push on.
There is nothing to panic about, and how they handle this setback will be a good indicator of what the team can achieve this season.
Prediction and Betting Pick
It will be very interesting to see how the Thunder will react to their recent disappointment. The Spurs are one of the best teams at home, so it will be vital for OKC to maintain their defensive solidity and be shrewd in their attacking plays.
I don’t see Pop making any significant changes to the team’s gameplan. They have found a working formula that allows the two star players to express themselves freely and get the needed help from the young core and bench players.
It will be curious to see which Russell Westbrook we will get. The one that allows Paul George to carry the shooting burden and takes on the responsibility of controlling the court has been very beneficial for the Thunder so far.
If he manages to suppress his emotions, it might be a very different performance from what we saw against the Wizards.
I will back the Spurs to edge this one. They are the hottest team in the NBA and have the home court advantage. Only the Milwaukee Bucks have more home wins than Pop’s men.
Furthermore, the Spurs haven’t lost a home game against Oklahoma since December 2014. In a game of fine margins, I believe it will be enough for San Antonio to clinch the win.
I can’t wait to see how both teams will look on the court. It may prove to be one of the biggest spectacles of the month. The in-form Spurs will be hosting a team that wants to get back on the right track as soon as possible.
The teams will be playing back-to-back games, and getting a win in the first one could be huge. If the Spurs manage to snatch it, they will be going to Oklahoma feeling relaxed and confident.
And if OKC gets the win at the AT&T Center, I expect they will be fired up to reassure their supporters that the Wizards game was just a slight setback for a team that has the ambition of finishing as the top seed in the West.
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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs – Odds, Predictions, and PickJanuary 8, 2019