Leonard, Spurs to stave off Thunder tonight?
Steven Adams and Enes Kanter didn’t exactly turn themselves into household names during the regular season. All of a sudden, though, they’re neutralizing one of the best players in NBA history.
The Oklahoma City interior tandem’s success against Tim Duncan is a huge reason why San Antonio faces elimination tonight. Yet oddsmakers aren’t quite ready to put the final nail in the proverbial coffin. Online sports book Bovada.lv likes Gregg Popovich’s veteran-laden squad as a 2-point favorite entering Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. The over/under total sits at 198.
Billy Donovan’s club grabbed a 3-2 series lead by storming back to slay the Spurs, 95-91, on Tuesday. Not only did Adams and Kanter combine for 20 points and 24 rebounds, they rendered an icon powerless. Duncan was 1 of 6 from the field and generally meandered through the proceedings.
Even the most ardent Lone Star State fans recognized that the Big Fundamental would eventually surrender to his hoops mortality. That's also what makes LaMarcus Aldridge’s pedestrian production harder to accept. Brought in to be the franchise’s next great post presence, he’s shooting 36.7 percent over the last three tilts. MVP runner-up Kawhi Leonard deserves a sliver of criticism, too, having let Russell Westbrook fill it up to the tune of 35 points in Game 5.
One can obviously craft the argument that Westbrook and Kevin Durant will get buckets no matter what. Leonard, however, prides himself on locking down the opposition’s finest offensive talent. He’ll surely accept that challenge beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET, but the question then shifts to how San Antonio plans to consistently score the basketball. We believe in Tony Parker's ability to execute Popovich’s classic pick-and-roll with aplomb, and Aldridge should collaborate with No. 2 to handle the rest. In short, the five-time champions won’t say goodbye to the 2015-16 campaign at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
THURSDAY NBA FREE PICK: SPURS -2