NBA Betting: Thunder Are Too Flawed As Currently Constructed To Win NBA Title
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | June 2, 2014
It would have been great theater to see an NBA Finals featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat with the current MVP, Kevin Durant, and the widely accepted best player in the world, LeBron James, a four-time MVP winner. However, it’s hard to argue that Heat-Spurs isn’t the NBA Finals matchup everyone wants to see. San Antonio is a -120 series favorite on Bovada’s NBA odds and a 4-point favorite for Thursday’s Game 1. There will be live betting on every game.
Before we look ahead, let’s look back and at Durant’s Thunder. There’s no question that he and Russell Westbrook are two of the Top-10 players in the NBA. Maybe Top 5. There’s also no question that it’s a flawed team and it might stay that way because of the market it plays in.
Yes there is revenue sharing in the NBA, but where teams cash in is on local cable TV deals. The Los Angeles Lakers recently signed one for $3 billion. The Thunder don’t even make 10 percent of that. Wondering why the team traded James Harden, who has become the league’s best shooting guard, before the 2012-13 season? It was all about finances. The Thunder couldn’t afford to pay three guys maximum money.
Oklahoma City’s lack of
depth was the clear difference against San Antonio. In Game 6, there was a 112-107 overtime loss, starters Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson, who came off the bench most of the season, combined for 102 points. That means the bench scored five. The San Antonio bench scored 51 points. Both Durant and Westbrook looked like they were trying to do too much, each shooting under 50 percent and combining for 14 turnovers. Durant was scoreless in overtime, clearly gassed, and Westbrook was just 1-for-7 from the floor in the extra session.
In 15 of 19 playoff games, the Thunder lost the bench scoring battle. Overall, opponents had a 785-517 advantage in bench points during the playoffs, which is just crazy. In the final four games of the Western Finals, San Antonio’s bench outscored the Thunder’s 209-72. Durant and Westbrook scored 55 percent of the Thunder’s points in the playoffs. That makes OKC easy to defend.
The Thunder also have zero presence in the paint from an offensive perspective. The Spurs were able to dump the ball into Tim Duncan when they needed a basket. Oklahoma City doesn’t have that option. It’s a perimeter team and perimeter teams rarely win NBA titles.
On the bright side, OKC’s trio of core players — Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka — all are age 25 and younger. The only player of note who is a free agent is Thabo Sefolosha, and he barely played in the latter parts of the Spurs series. Veteran guard Derek Fisher is a free agent too, and he’s expected to be the next Knicks coach. No loss there. Also, the Spurs might not be quite the obstacle next season. Some believe that Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Coach Gregg Popovich will retire if San Antonio is able to vanquish Miami in the Finals.
That said, the Western Conference isn’t getting any easier. The Los Angeles Clippers are going to be under a new owner who is ready to spend to win. The Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers all appear on the rise. Then you have LeBron James and the Heat. No one really expects him to leave south Florida even though James can opt out of his contract this summer. So Durant could end up like a Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley or Karl Malone: an all-time great player who never wins a ring.