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Western Conference Finals Tip Off

The Spurs' 'Big Three' will continue their search for a fourth NBA title together as the Western Conference finals open with Game 1 in San Antonio.

The Spurs’ ‘Big Three’ will continue their search for a fourth NBA title together as the Western Conference finals open with Game 1 in San Antonio.

The San Antonio Spurs host the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.

Tip-off at AT&T Center in San Antonio is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET.

The time for talking is done out West. Between now and June 2 all that’s left to do is for the two top-seeded sides to prove their worth.

Can the Spurs avenge a 2012 loss to the Thunder in the Western Conference finals and book a second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals? Or will it be the Thunder that once more asserts its dominance, as they did two years ago, and advances to its second NBA Finals appearance in three years? It’s time to find out.

BettingSports.com took a historically-angled look at the Western Conference finals on Saturday, pointing out that the Spurs have traditionally given the Thunder franchise a whole dose of misery, at least when the team was located in Seattle. But things have been different with the team rooted in Oklahoma City.

Serge Ibaka is 'likely' to miss the rest of the postseason.

Serge Ibaka is ‘likely’ to miss the rest of the postseason.

The biggest news coming out of either camp ahead of Monday’s series tip-off relates to the best defensive player on either side.

After suffering a calf injury in Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers last week, Thunder center Serge Ibaka is expected to miss the rest of the postseason.

For many, that news was enough to sound the death knell on the Thunder’s chances of winning an NBA championship this season.

As expected, the injury news also saw the Thunder become bigger underdogs, at least according to the bookmakers. Having opened at +145 to win the series, the Thunder is currently listed at +180. The Spurs meanwhile have jumped from -165 to -220.

But while the Thunder talk of adopting a next-man-up approach, there are some that aren’t quite convinced Ibaka is done for the year.

The Oklahoman is reporting that the Spurs aren’t sold on Ibaka missing the entire series, and have been preparing with his presence in mind. Whether or not someone’s playing mind games is a simple case of wait and see.

In the meantime, rookie standout Steven Adams is likely to see his minutes increase. The 7-footer has had a solid first season in the pros and will look to continue his road to success as he bangs against the likes of Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw.

Meanwhile, Spurs guard Tony Parker has been cleared to play after suffering a hamstring injury against the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals. Parker will join his fellow aged stars, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, on the hardwood as the trio looks to win its fourth NBA title together. Duncan remains on the hunt for his fifth title.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs odds for 05/19/2014

In terms of Game 1, San Antonio (-190) opened as the favorite over Oklahoma City (+165) but, like the series line, that advantage has climbed. Bettors can currently get the Spurs at -240.

The Thunder still represents a huge threat to both the Spurs and the bookmakers. Durant and Co. has defeated the Spurs in five straight games, and eight of their last nine head-to-head matchups. The team is still hungry for success, and will be looking to snatch an unexpected win in the Alamo City.

At this time, it’s worth pointing out that San Antonio is 4-0 against Oklahoma City/Seattle when playing in Game 1.

The spread opened at 4 and has climbed to 5.5.

Oklahoma City (7-5-1 ATS) has had more success against the spread than San Antonio (5-7-0 ATS) this season, although the Spurs have covered in five of their last six games, following a miserable first six games against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Thunder covered the spread in all four regular season meetings between the sides and has gone 3-1-1 ATS in its last five visits to AT&T Center.

The total opened at 210 but has subsequently slipped to 209 with most sportsbooks.

Both Oklahoma City (7-6-0) and San Antonio (7-5-0) have marginally favored the over this postseason.

The over and under each paid out twice during the regular season, but four of the last six meetings in Texas have seen the over pay out.

You can find a host of prop bets for the game, courtesy of Bovada, here.

Game 2 of the series is scheduled to take place at AT&T Center in San Antonio on Wednesday (May 21), with tip-off again scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET.


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