2016-NBA-Play offs-San Antonio at OKC game 4 preview

San Antonio at Oklahoma City (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)
Spurs lead series 2-1

San Antonio opened this series with a wire-to-wire blowout in Game 1 but it’s been nothing but close calls in the last two games. The Spurs earned a 100-96 victory on Friday against Oklahoma City as 2 ½-point road favorites and the outcome came down to the final quarter.

The Thunder led 81-77 with seven minutes remaining in the fourth but were outscored 23-15 and San Antonio earned 11 of those points from the free throw line. OKC couldn’t buy a shot from 3-point land (0-for-5) during this span and turned the ball over three times while looking stagnant on offense.

Looking at the big picture, this best-of-seven matchup has become a game of 2 on 2 with Leonard and Aldridge clashing with Durant and Westbrook.

San Antonio won that battle Friday as Kawhi Leonard led the team with 31 points and 11 boards, which came after a 14-point effort in Game 2’s loss. LaMarcus Aldridge dropped in 24 points on Friday and he’s averaging 34.3 points per game in this series. Those numbers are much needed for San Antonio since it appears that “Father Time” has caught up with Tim Duncan (4 PPG, 4 RPG) a bit earlier than most expected.

All of the blame for OKC is usually pointed at Russell Westrbook, and that criticism is sometimes deserving. He finished with 31 points in Game 3 but he took 13 more shots than Kevin Durant (18) and that includes an ugly 3-of-10 performance from 3-point land. KD finished with 26 and only took six attempts in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook owned his play in Game 3. “Execution. That starts with me,” Westbrook said. “I’ve got to do a better job of executing and putting guys in position to score the basketball, especially late. And especially against good defense. You’ve got to find ways to move the ball around and that starts with me, so I’ve got to do a better job leading into the next game.”

Fast forward to Sunday’s key matchup and the Spurs have been installed as short road favorites (-1) over the Thunder and that’s a real tricky number to handicap.

Oklahoma City has gone 2-0 both SU and ATS off a loss in this year’s postseason and it should feel confident at home versus the Spurs. The Thunder have gone 11-3 against San Antonio in their last 14 meetings at Chesapeake Energy Arena and that includes a 5-2 record in the playoffs.

However, the Thunder are underdogs and their numbers when catching points haven’t been great at the betting counter. OKC is 2-12 as an underdog this season and that includes a 0-2 mark at home.

Even though this venue hasn’t been kind to San Antonio, Gregg Popovich’s team is 8-2 in its last 10 playoff games on the road which includes three victories in this year’s postseason.

The total for the first three games in this series closed at 200 and the ‘under’ has cashed in the last two games. Overall, the ‘under’ has cashed in six of the past eight meetings between the pair. Sunday’s number is hovering around 198 and that’s the lowest total that these teams have seen since a Christmas Day affair in 2014. That game went ‘over’ the number, easily.