June 2nd NBA Predictions: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder
Saturday, June 02, 2012
It's often said that a playoff series doesn't truly begin until the home team loses, and the Oklahoma City Thunder sent a loud reminder of that to the San Antonio Spurs with a rout in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
The host Thunder will look to even the series at two games apiece Saturday night after snapping the Spurs' 20-game winning streak.
It was only the second win in 12 meetings for Oklahoma City, which improved to 6-0 at home in the playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs: San Antonio went from unstoppable in Game 2 to overwhelmed in Game 3. In losing for the first time since April 11, the Spurs were held to their lowest point total since Jan. 27. Although the Spurs were due for a dud after winning 31 of their last 33 games, one troublesome aspect in the past two games has been the performance of future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. After playing brilliantly through the first nine games of the postseason, Duncan is coming off back-to-back 11-point efforts and has shot a combined 7 of 26 in the two contests. He managed only two rebounds but did have five blocked shots to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first place on the career postseason blocks list.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Oklahoma City needed to get more contributions from beyond its Big 3, and Thabo Sefolosha provided more than the Thunder – and Spurs – could imagine with a standout performance at both ends of the court in Game 3. Sefolosha, who entered the game averaging four points in the playoffs, matched his season high with 19 points to go along with six steals and six rebounds. Sefolosha also drew the defensive assignment on Spurs point guard Tony Parker, forcing him into more turnovers (five) than assists (four) two days after Parker shredded the Thunder for 34 points. Also stepping up was forward Serge Ibaka, who scored 14 points – one more than his first two games combined – and blocked three shots.
1. San Antonio was denied in its bid to join the Los Angeles Lakers as the only teams to open the postseason with 11 straight victories.
2. Thunder All-Star PG Russell Westbrook scored a playoff-low 10 points, but he had nine assists and four steals.
3. The Spurs had scored more than 100 points 18 times during the 20-game winning streak.
NBA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Thunder 103, Spurs 101.
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