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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 11:26 PM

You would be hardpressed to find to more similar teams in the NBA right now than the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in terms of their offensive and defensive success. They go about things slightly differently…but they end up with great results. That’s why they’ve survived to battle each other for the Conference championship in the NBA’s toughest conference.

As promised we’re back today with a stat preview for the Western Finals. We’ll start by glancing at the market prices…then we’ll dig deeper into the indicator stats that have worked out so well for us over the years…



Game One: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Series Price: San Antonio -200, Oklahoma City +175

Game One Line: San Antonio by 5.5, total of 204.5

The Spurs are seen as the market as the better team, which is hard to argue with given their fantastic won-lost record in recent months and their sizable victory margins. In fact, you can make a case looking only at margins that the Spurs should be a much bigger favorite than this. They’re regularly coasting to double digit victories. And, even though Oklahoma City has also been taking care of business along the way, they’ve been doing that by less impressive margins.

Well, let’s say it this way. In terms of wins and margins, Oklahoma City is playing very well…but San Antonio is OFF THE CHARTS! What handicappers have to deduce is whether or not San Antonio can keep playing off the charts every night when they’re facing such a talented foe.

This isn’t Utah

This isn’t the banged up and injured LA Clippers

This isn’t a late season schedule of opponents going through the motions

Can San Antonio keep up their historic pace against a championship contender? The market is kind of splitting the difference with the series price and Game One pointspread. Raw “results” math would have the Spurs closer to -240 and probably -7 or -8 on the line. Treating both teams as relative equals in terms of their championship hopes would have it down lower in the neighborhood of SA -140 and maybe -3.5 to -4 per game. How seriously you take the recent Spurs run determines how you’re going to bet in the series.

Now, here are some numbers suggesting why the series could be closer than the market is initially anticipating…


Efficiency Rankings

San Antonio (1 on offense, 11 on defense, 6 in rebound rate)

Oklahoma City (2 on offense, 9 on defense, 5 in rebound rate)

Remember that “efficiency” is scoring adjusted for tempo. These are league rankings from the regular season. And, obviously, THIS IS A COIN FLIP!

The Spurs have a slight edge on offense, but slight deficits in defense and rebounding. Those teams are virtual clones in terms of how their production rates within the league. These are the two best offenses in the NBA…and that’s in spite of the fact that they had to play in the superior conference. The teams are only around 10th best defensively overall…though they’d both grade out better with balanced schedules between the East and West conferences. Both teams are strong at rebounding, amongst the league’s elite when you adjust for schedules.

Wow…is this series pick-em like our key indicator stats say? Or, is this long run of blowouts by the Spurs a better indicator for a franchise destined to add to its historic legacy?

Look, we have great respect for both teams. And, both have been good to us at various times this season. Any selection JIM HURLEY makes in this serious isn’t an indictment of either team’s chances at going the distance. We’ll be looking for value. And, at first glance, the value may be on the underdog for the following reasons.

*We respect defense and rebounding more than anything…and the Thunder have slight edges in BOTH of those categories even though they’re the series underdog. Historically, that’s been meaningful. We have a respect for history. And, we’ve been driving the “defense and rebounding wins championships” theme into your head in both college and pro basketball on this website since the internet was invented.

*San Antonio’s defense isn’t particularly strong inside…and you HAVE to be strong inside to deal with the aggressive drives of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Those guys controlled the Lakers series with Kevin Durant as a side light because nobody could keep them from penetrating. If the Lakers bigs did stand tall, then the game was close. When the Lakers bigs wilted, got tired, or got discouraged, OKC ran away and hid. We’re not suggest that San Antonio is going to be a pushover or anything. But, they’ll have to prove to us that their defense is up to the task of matching market expectations.

*San Antonio’s fantastic run has been helped greatly by three-point shooting. That’s the most fickle of basketball stats, and is known to get wobbly when championships are on the line. Orlando and Phoenix are great examples of teams who could go deep into the playoffs by trying to hit 8-12 treys per game. This is the round when they generally hit a wall. Maybe San Antonio can keep nailing treys all the way to the lifting the O’Brien trophy. Dallas managed to use the trey properly and intelligently last year, granted against lesser expectations.

We love watching the Spurs play basketball. It’s even more appealing to the eye when half of your TV time is devoted to watching the wrestling matches in the East! We’ll be watching Sunday’s opener very closely to see how the chess match is going to play out with the inside offense of OKC matching the beautiful passing and shot making of San Antonio.

Maybe this is a series the Spurs can dominate

Maybe the market has underestimated OKC

Maybe taking the dog every game offers the best value in a stat toss-up

You can rest assured that JIM HURLEY will find the right way for you to go more often than not at the game day prices on sides and totals. If you’d like to bet the best options on the board, you can purchase those right here at this website with your credit card on game days. You get the most bang for your buck by signing up for the full playoff package.

If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about including race day at the Belmont when you check in. It’s easy to add the final jewel in the Triple Crown to any monthly or seasonal package.

Don’t forget that Sunday is a huge baseball day too. Among the games of interest for us on the sizzling Sunday slate:

Tampa Bay at Boston (Hellickson vs. Buchholz) (on TBS)

San Francisco at Miami (Cain vs. Nolasco)

Cleveland at Chicago White Sox (Jiminez vs. Floyd)

Philadelphia at St. Louis (Halladay vs. Wainwright)

Toronto at Texas (Drabek vs. Darvish)

Washington at Atlanta (Gonzalez vs. Beachy) (prime time on ESPN)

Baseball is the single most profitable of all Las Vegas betting sports because the busy daily schedules last all through the summer and early fall. Be sure you’re maximizing your profit potential right now by attacking ALL the edges, not just those from the NBA playoffs.

Back with you again Monday to look at the market prices and efficiency numbers in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Will Miami coast to a laugher as a tune up for a championship showdown with either Oklahoma City or San Antonio? Or are the Heat in for a surprising challenge?

Never make a move in big sporting events until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!

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