I won’t lie to you, basketball is not exactly the No. 1 sport on my mind today. Perhaps we can split the difference, though …
The NBA intelligently made Thursday a small slate in light of MLB Opening Day. Here’s what you need to know for tonight’s five-gamer. — Mark Gallant
All info as of Thursday morning. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.
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OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (-4) AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS | O/U: 208.5
8 p.m. ET | TNT
What I’m watching for: The Thunder are one of the few teams that can battle LaMarcus Aldridge inside without a double-team. The key for them is going to be those little slip cuts they get with Patty Mills, Danny Green and Dejounte Murray. There’s a pretty good chance this Spurs team looks remarkably different next year, so you might want to enjoy this as the last time these two teams that have gone up against each other so much do so with most of the same pieces.
Oh, and watch out for Davis Bertans, as he’s going to get his turn to cook Melo on the rotation nightly schedule. — Matt Moore
Betting market: If the line movement is any indication, we can expect Aldridge to be out tonight. The Spurs opened as a one point favorite, but have moved all the way to a four point dog. We have tracked FOUR bet signals on OKC, which have gradually moved their line up and up. — Mark Gallant
What the metrics say: These teams have played three times already this year, with the Thunder winning twice at home and the Spurs holding serve in San Antonio. They were defensive slugfests, combining for 205, 177 and 198 points. These teams stand just a game apart in the Western Conference standings, with the Thunder barely holding onto the lead for the No. 4 spot and home-court advantage in the first round. The most interesting storyline I’m watching here is the Thunder with Carmelo Anthony. Russell Westbrook and the crew were frustrated with him in Sunday’s loss to the Blazers, and it might be time to try him in a bench role. The combination of Westbrook-Alex Abrines-Paul George-Jerami Grant-Steven Adams has crushed teams this season, posting a +31.9 net rating. That sample is only 100 minutes, but that’s the issue: Billy Donovan needs to experiment with more creative starting units that won’t tank both the starters and bench. — Bryan Mears