Two Goliaths of the NBA Western Conference go head to head on Thursday. But will the Thunder make all the noise?
Back in early June, the path was seemingly set on the San Antonio Spurs to earn a crack at another title when they arrived into the West Finals with the best record in the league and an almighty unbeaten run.
Then they collided with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and their quest juddered to a halt. And with no major moves in the off-season, the question is whether an ageing San Antonio is destined to slide back into irrelevance over the coming years.
A more accurate indication might come in their reunion with the Thunder, the Spurs arriving fresh from a 99-95 to New Orleans. With Manu Ginobili expected back in the line-up, they’re 1.74 to gain a little revenge for last summer, and favoured to come up trumps by 2.5 points ay 1.91.
But if Tim Duncan & Co. are the league’s most familiar quantity, there’s a new look to the Thunder ranks after the shock trade of James Harden, breaking up the core that took OKC to the Finals. Debutant Kevin Martin is an able scorer but some of their continuity has been lost. Still, they’ve now dropped out to 5.35 third favourites for the championship this season which is excellent value. Oklahoma is far from a spent force.
Elsewhere, there’s ample action this week in the Euroleague. The headline game of Week 4 is the visit of reigning champions Panathinaikos to ambitious Fenerbahce. Pana are 3.00 to win in Turkey, worth a punt. In the season betting, Real Madrid have edged out to 7.50 for the title. They’ve not had a perfect start but the Spaniards have plenty of scope to improve.
Bet of the Day: Take the Thunder over the Spurs at 2.27.