The Thunder are back in the Western Conference Finals. While they have to face off against the Warriors, could they win the series? Let's break the NBA Odds down for our loyal readers.
After their win over the Spurs, the Thunder are now +700 to win the NBA championship. Before beating the Spurs in four of their final second round games, the Thunder were up to +900, but after dominating San Antonio, they have moved their NBA odds substantially.
However, their Western Conference futures are even more interesting. Despite the injury to Stephen Curry earlier in the playoffs, despite the Warriors’ struggles to get past the Blazers, and despite the Thunder’s second round dominance, they are +400 to win the West. They were +500 before beating San Antonio, but despite them looking as close to a championship team as almost any team this postseason, the Warriors are still solid favorites to win the West at -400 to -500.
This seems somewhat strange to myself and others looking at how well the Thunder have played. The Warriors are the better team, but they are not that much better than Oklahoma City. For the reasons below, it might be a solid bet to put some units on the Thunder to not only win the West, but to win the entire thing.
One of the biggest improvements we saw throughout the second round beat down of he Spurs was the Thunder defense. Oklahoma City was never known for their defense this season, but Billy Donovan was in Florida, and he has finally got the Thunder to buy in. Changing around his rotations and finally playing Enes Kanter and Steven Adams together was a big step as well, but the Thunder have been one of the playoffs’ best defense teams over their last five games.
In their last five games, the Thunder own a Defensive Rating of 100.2, which if it was stretched out to the entire playoffs would be the best mark of any team other than the Miami Heat. Considering the Thunder play faster than the Heat, and you have an incredible accomplishment. Combine their rock solid defense with their offense which is averaging over 114 points per 100 possessions, and you have the making of a championship caliber team.
Thunder’s Big Lineup
Speaking of playing Kanter and Adams together, when those two are on the floor together this postseason, the Thunder have looked almost unbeatable. If you look at their stats per 100 possessions with those two on the floor with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Dion Waiters, they are almost off the charts.
The Thunder have an Effective Field Goal Percentage that is 15.6 percentage points better than their opponents with those five guys on the floor, and what’s even more impressive has been their scoring. They are scoring nearly 25 more points per 100 possessions with that lineup on the floor, and unsurprisingly, their rebounding has been unstoppable with their big lineup.
With those five guys on the floor together, the Thunder are averaging +16.5 more total rebounds per 100 possessions this postseason, and they are +25.6 defensive rebounds better per 100 possessions as well. Also remember, most of this has happened against the Spurs, one of the better rebounding teams in the league. The Warriors are far from an elite rebounding team, and if the Thunder are rebounding and playing defense like they were in the second round, they are going to be tough to beat for even the Warriors.
Putting It All Together
While the Warriors should easily still be favored in this series, the sportsbooks are undervaluing the Thunder a lot. Oklahoma City matches up very well with the Warriors, they are as good or better on both offense and defense, and they have the super star power to match up as well. I think the Thunder are an excellent underdog wager in this series, and a future odds wager on them to win the West at +400 is a steal of a value, so add them to your NBA picks.