Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#551 San Antonio Spurs 223.5 vs.
#552 Oklahoma City Thunder -5
Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 7:05pm EST
Chesapeake Enery Arena, Oklahoma City
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The San Antonio Spurs will continue their Western Conference road trip on Sunday evening when they travel to Chesapeake Energy Arena for a matchup versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oklahoma City currently sits in sixth place in the Western Conference standings with a 34-22 overall record. Meanwhile, the Spurs are trying to battle their way back into the playoff race after winning back-to-back games. San Antonio enters with a 24-31 overall record, 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the West. Can San Antonio keep its momentum going on the road against the Thunder on Sunday?

Spurs hoping to make late postseason surge

The Spurs took down the Utah Jazz 113-104 on Friday night behind 23 points from point guard Dejounte Murray. Murray added seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals on the night while DeMar DeRozan added 18 for the Spurs, who shot 10-for-20 from 3-point range in the win.

While the Spurs will be fighting for a playoff spot over the next few months, the real barometer of San Antonio’s season is going to come down to the development of their young players. Murray has been a pleasant surprise of late, scoring 20-plus points in back-to-back games. However, Gregg Popovich and company should probably explore a backcourt pairing between Murray and up-and-coming point guard Derrick White. Both players are big and strong enough to defend multiple positions and Pop has shown some confidence by closing with them on occasion at times this year. With both players on the floor, the Spurs own a 99.4 defensive rating, which is 13.3 points better than the team’s season average. Lonnie Walker has also flashed his potential this season and could turn into a rotation player in 2020-21 and beyond.

Paul, Thunder excelling in clutch moments

Oklahoma City came out of the All-Star Break with a 113-101 statement win over the Denver Nuggets in a potential first-round playoff preview. Chris Paul scored a team-high 29 points while Steven Adams had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder, who used a fourth-quarter surge to take control of the game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists while Danilo Gallinari added 15 points in the win.

As Oklahoma City has done so often this season, the Thunder took over late in the game against Denver. In fact, CP3 and company have been nearly unstoppable in the clutch. The Thunder sport a league-best plus-27.3 net rating in a league-high 38 games that features a score within five points in the last five minutes of regulation. They are 25-13 in those games with the NBA’s best clutch-time offense at 123.5 points per 100 possessions and Paul leads the NBA in clutch scoring with 128 points on the year.

It doesn’t stop there either. OKC’s crunch-time lineup of Paul, Alexander, Adams, Gallinari, and Dennis Shroder ranks as the best lineup configuration in the NBA with at least 150 minutes. They are plus-30.2 points per 100 possessions in their time together on the floor and 52.8 percent of those minutes have come in the fourth quarter.

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The Spurs don’t appear to be tanking down the stretch of the season but it’s hard to seem them creeping back into the eighth spot in the West. San Antonio defeated the Thunder in their final game before the All-Star Break but expect things to be different on the road in this spot. Billy Donovan has gotten the most out of his three point guards, and thanks in large part to Chris Paul’s veteran leadership, the Thunder’s closing lineup ranks as the NBA’s best group on the floor this season. Paul also leads the NBA in clutch scoring, so it’s hard not to give them an edge at home against the Spurs here. Take OKC to cover the number at home in this battle between Western Conference playoff hopefuls.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder -5

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These two teams combined for 220 points in their previous matchup and they are pegged to eclipse that number with a total of 221.5 in this game. However, the Spurs have been ramping up their effort on the defensive end of late and their defense has improved dramatically with Murray and White on the floor together. That’s a combination that has been seeing a lot more run as of late, so I’ll take my chances with the under in this matchup in Oklahoma City on Sunday evening.

Prediction: Under 221.5
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.