NBA Betting: Could Emotional Durant MVP Speech Spark Thunder To Series Win?
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | May 9, 2014
There have been some great inspirational speeches in sports history. Perhaps the most famous in the United States is when Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne gave his "Win One for the Gipper" speech to the Irish players at halftime of their 1928 game against Army. Notre Dame did win the big game.
That is when speeches are often given: either at halftime or before a game to spur a team to success. There likely had never been a speech given by a player the day before a game that led a team to a victory, but it might have been the case this week.
Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant gave perhaps the greatest speech ever at an awards ceremony when he was officially named the NBA MVP for the first time in his career on Tuesday. Durant spent 25 emotional minutes on the dais, thanking his mother, coaches and teammates all by name, telling personal tales of his relationships with every single one of them. It left a few of his teammates actually in tears.
What did that have to do with Oklahoma City’s 112-101 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday? Maybe everything. After the Thunder came out flat and were blown out in Game 1, they were a totally different team in Game 2. Oklahoma City had 37 first-quarter points behind 17 from Durant to even the series. He finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Teammate Russell Westbrook, the player Durant singled out most as a reason for his success on Tuesday, was brilliant with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double in these playoffs. There has never been triple-doubles by teammates in an NBA playoff game, and history came up one Durant assist short.
The Clippers still have home-court advantage now and are 3.5-point favorites on Bovada’s NBA odds for Friday night’s Game 3 at Staples Center. It will feature live betting. However, Oklahoma City has
re-emerged as the series favorite at -135 with Los Angeles at +110. The question is whether OKC can carry over the emotion from Tuesday/Wednesday to the rest of the series.
While the Thunder can continue to expect big games from Durant and Westbrook, they aren’t going to win this series without more from their bench. The reserves had just 13 points in Game 2 compared to 33 from the Clippers. Oklahoma City’s top bench player is guard Reggie Jackson. He averaged more than 17 points per game in the final four of the first-round series against Memphis but has totaled only eight total points against Los Angeles. It’s also unlikely that OKC’s other starters, Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, combine for 36 points on 15-for-26 shooting on many nights going forward as they did in Game 2.
L.A. has a huge edge in depth as it is so Jackson must step up. Meanwhile, Clippers reserve Jamal Crawford, who was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year on Thursday, is averaging 12.0 points per game in this series. If there’s one worry for the Clippers it is how Ibaka has locked down Blake Griffin defensively. Griffin had a playoff-low 15 points in Game 2. In this series, Griffin is 6-for-21 for 13 points when guarded by Ibaka and 6-for-8 from the field for 23 points against all other Thunder players. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan also has been quiet in this series, averaging 7.0 points and 6.5 rebounds a game after destroying Golden State in the previous round.
The Thunder are second-favorites at Bovada to win the Western Conference at 5/2. The Clippers are right behind at 3/1.