The San Antonio Spurs looked destined for the Western Conference crown from these NBA Playoffs. The Golden State Warriors were supposed to be content with getting past the first round. But even though the Texans take a 2-1 semi-final series lead into Sunday’s Game 4, there’s still a real sense of the unpredictable about these two teams, caused by the form of Stephen Curry and his team’s ability to play as if they had nothing to lose.
The Spurs took back homecourt advantage on Friday with a 102-92 win in Oakland, inspired by 32 points from Tony Parker. And for the first time, they handled Curry, restraining him to just 16 points on a horrific 5-17 shooting. That’s not likely to stop the free-scoring guard from shooting today – and perhaps pushing the total points above the line of 200.5 (available at 1.91). However for Golden State to draw level, he’ll need some offensive production from elsewhere.
San Antonio are leaning more heavily on Kawhi Leonard, who is having his coming-out party in this post-season to a wider audience, assuming the mantle of third banana from Manu Ginobili. Although you can’t fail to be impressed with the Warriors, there’s great value on the Spurs to win at 2.04.
Across the Atlantic, it’s the biggest day in European basketball with Real Madrid facing off against Olympiacos in London for the Euroleague title. The Greeks, winners last year, put in a commanding performance on Friday when they beat the odds and demolished CSKA Moscow to book their place in the final. As a team they were superb, and with league MVP Vassilis Spanoulis getting ample support, they looked very capable of retaining their title at 2.50.
Real needed a late rally to get past FC Barcelona and were less than convincing in the paint in a 74-67 victory. They have the talent to pick up the trophy for the first time since 1995 but on the evidence of two days ago, take the Greeks to win on the handicap of +3.5 at 1.94 in a game that could well stay under the total points line of 145.5, available at 1.91.
Best bet: Back San Antonio to beat Golden State at 2.04