NBA Western Conference Finals 2012 Betting Preview
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NBA Western Conference Finals 2012 will see the San Antonio Spurs face the Oklahoma City Thunder. Who will advance to the NBA Finals? Today on the blog, Cassini offers his thoughts in his betting preview.
The lock-out shortened NBA season is now at the Conference Finals stage, one step away from the NBA Finals. While for teams remain in contention to represent the Eastern Conference in those finals, the West is already down to two teams, as the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs prepare to tip-off the NBA'sWestern Conference Finals on Sunday night.
How They Got There
These two teams finished with the best (Spurs) and second best (Thunder) records of the reduced 66 game regular season, with the Spurs winning 50 matches and the Thunder 47.
The two teams met three times in the regular season, with the Spurs winning twice. The first time was on January 8th, with Oklahoma City the home team. Leading by as many as 25 points at one time, this game was effectively over in the third quarter, when both teams emptied their benches and rested their starters. For the Thunder, this was the third consecutive night of action, and KevinDurant finished as top scorer with a modest 21 points, and the starts contributing just 55 points. For the Spurs, Gary Neal led the way with 18points, with the starters combining for 53 points. The result was Thunder 108Spurs 96.
Remember The Alamo
The second meeting was in San Antonio, almost a month later, and again the home team prevailed. The Spurs had a 24 point lead trimmed back to 11, led by Tony Parker’s42 points. Kevin Durant was again the Thunder’s top scorer with 22, and the starters for the Spurs scored 84 points compared with 63 from the Thunder’s. The final score was Spurs 107 Thunder 96.
Back To Stockyard City
The third meeting was in mid-March back in Oklahoma City, incidentally this season is only the fourth that this franchise (originally the Seattle Supersonics) has played here, and this time the road team emerged victorious. Top scorers on this occasion were Russell Westbrook, with 36 for the Thunder and again Tony Parker for the Spurs, with 25. Starters for the Thunder scored 78 points,out-shot by the Spurs starters who scored a very high 99 points between them,as all contributed between 16 and 25 points.
The final score doesn’t tell the whole story for this game. For the record, it was Spurs 114 Thunder 105 (all three games in the season series were Overs) but the Spurs led by 27 points in the second quarter and the game appeared to be over. But this is basketball, NBA basketball, and anything can happen (which is why it has become my personal favourite sport for trading). With 6:34 left in the fourth quarter, the Spurs lead was down to two points (98-96) but for a reason described in the press as ‘inexplicable’ the Thunder then abandoned their inside game which was producing so many points, and reverted to shooting from distance. Seven shots from three-point range were taken, with just one scored from this point in the game. The lead hovered between three and five points fora while, before the Spurs pulled away in the final minute of play.
In summary,the final winning margins were 12, 11 and 9 points and plenty of points in those three games, with all three seeing a big scoring run by one team or the other. For trading, this is perfect, and something to keep an eye on during the Conference Finals. Be aware though that if the Spurs are ahead in the series, and fall behind big in a game on the road, don’t be surprised to see Gregg Popovich throw in the towel and rest some of his older players.
The Thunder swept the 2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks in the first round and lost just one game (by 3 points) to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. Three of the four wins versus the Mavericks were by six points or less, as were two of the four wins versus the Lakers. All series in the NBA playoffs arebest-of-seven.
The Spurs arrive in the Conference Final with an even better playoff record, having swept both the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers in their opening two rounds. Six of those eight wins have been double digit victories, with only the final game of each series being won by single digits, suggesting perhaps a certain degree of easing up once victory was all but assured.
Arguably then, the Thunder arrive at this stage the more battle tried of the two teams. Much has been made of the relative ages of the two teams, the young, up-and-coming Thunder versus the ageing veteran Spurs, but this can be looked at in another way. Last season, the oldest NBA team was the Dallas Mavericks, and as mentioned earlier, they ended the season as NBA Champions, helped by their experience more than hindered by their age.
Boring, But Important
Also noteworthy is that San Antonio has won 8 of the last 9 matches against Oklahoma City.
Since 1999, Spurs have played in six Western Conference Finals, losing two to the Los AngelesLakers, but beating the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Sun sand Utah Jazz. The Spurs also started out in life in a different city, although same state. They were the original Dallas team playing as the Dallas Chaparrals and later as the Texas Chaparrals (an attempt to make the team a ‘regional’ one rather than a city one, unlike the Texas Rangers baseball team, who were name dafter the law enforcement agency of that name).
The Thunder’s one appearance in that time was last season, when they lost in five games to the Dallas Mavericks. These finals have not seen a sweep since 2001, and my prediction is that this series will go six games at least.
The Bottom Line
The Spurs, with home court advantage, are favourites to win the West at 1.57 with skyBET, with the Thunder a best priced 2.88 with BetVictor. Too short on the Spurs for me, and if the Thunder can split the opening pair, a nice trade on the exchanges will be available although I'd wait until game four is in the books.
You can follow Cassini on Twitter @calciocassini
And visit Cassini's blog : GreenAllOver.blogspot
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Nice entry Cassini. Whoever wins this series will also win the title this year. Of course, as a huge Spurs fan, and with an open series bet (the Spurs to win the Western Conference at odds 3.00), I would like to see the Spurs advancing into the final. I wouldn't call the Spurs an old team, but for sure a veteran team with plenty of experience. I think the Spurs can win this series in 5 or at most 6 games. The Thunder meet once again a deep veteran team, that has experienced everything imaginable and is well coached by Gregg Popovich. Tony Parker is playing at a MVP level. San Antonio is moving the ball over much better than the Supersonics do. IMO the Supersonics may have gotten better individually, but they still rely too much on Westbrook and Durant as the Heat do with Le Bron and Wade. That's why whichever team wins here, will sweep any team from the East in the finals. The Spurs played a perfect postseason, guarding the Pick and Roll perfectly against the Clippers and Chris Paul and they will do so again with Westbrook and Durant. Duncan will give the Supersonics the same lesson as Dirk gave them in the Western finals last year. But the Spurs aren't just Parker, Manu and Duncan. They're also Bonner, Green, Neal, Leonard and Jackson. The latter two will stop Durant and I don't see him scoring over 30 points in any match. That's not just my opinion because I'm a Spurs fan, but I believe in good basketball and the Spurs are playing ridiculously good right now with a 18-0 winning streak which will not end soon. At least not in San Antonio, Texas. Looking forward to an exciting series, with finally some real basketball not like in the East were every game is at upper college level right now. The Spurs to take this 4-1 or 4-2. Cheers, Poglavica