NBA Picks: Take Thunder And Points, Go 'Over' In Game 1 vs. Warriors

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 16, 2016 1:00 PM UTC

Monday, May. 16, 2016 1:00 PM UTC

This Monday Night, Thunder and Warriors play Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The host OKC are -7½ on NBA odds with a total of 223½. Join us in finding the best value here.

Best Series in Decades?
If you believe the ESPN statistical sister site FiveThirtyEight, this is the best conference finals matchup since 1984. I'm not the guy from "A Beautiful Mind" so I won't even try to explain how the site came up with what it did, but I'm not disagreeing. Just check out this year's MVP voting. Of course Golden State's Steph Curry was the repeat winner and first ever to be voted unanimously so.

Curry became the fourth player in league history to average at least 30 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals in a season, joining Rick Barry (1974-75), Michael Jordan (three times) and Dwyane Wade (2008-09).  Curry improved his scoring average by 6.3 points from the 2014-15 season (23.8 ppg), the largest year-over-year increase in league history for a reigning NBA MVP. Curry also has made at least one 3-pointer in every postseason game in which he’s appeared, tied with Reggie Miller for the longest playoff 3-point streak in NBA history at 44 straight games. I'm fairly confident saying that record will be broken on Monday.

Meanwhile, there are three other players in this series who also got MVP votes. Curry's teammate Draymond Green finished seventh and Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were fourth and fifth, respectively.

The Warriors are -420 on NBA odds to win the series. The Thunder are +350. You can also bet on NBA picks Golden  State at -1.5 games for the series at -165. OKC at +1.5 games is +135. Somewhat surprisingly to me, the Warriors winning the series in five games is the favored exact result at +125. Then it's Warriors in six at +400 on NBA picks. OKC's favored exact result is in six games at +900. When I previewed this series last week, I predicted Warriors in seven.


Thunder Could Have Quite The Run Themselves
Golden State would certainly have a case as the best single-season team in NBA history should it win the title after setting a league record with 73 regular-season wins. Do I think this team would be the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls in a series? I don't. But that's a story for another day.

But could Oklahoma City's run be the best in NBA history if the Thunder win it all? The Thunder beat a Hall of Fame player in Round 1 in the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, although to be fair that Dallas team wasn't all that great. In the conference semifinals, the Thunder took out a Spurs team that set a franchise record with 67 wins and by some metrics was one of the Top 10 regular-season teams in NBA annals. The Spurs have at least a couple of Hall of Famers on their roster. Then you have the record-setting Warriors. Finally, Cleveland is probably going to win the Eastern Conference and the Cavs have one of the Top 5 players ever in LeBron James.

This is the first playoff meeting between the Warriors and Thunder since the latter moved to Oklahoma City. The all-time postseason series between the franchises is tied at 5-5; those were all when the Thunder were the Seattle SuperSonics. Golden State won the regular-season series 3-0, although the Thunder led every game in the fourth quarter at one point. It was the Warriors' first-ever sweep of the Thunder/Sonics franchise. The Warriors (114.9 ppg) and Thunder (110.2 ppg) were the league’s top two scoring teams during the regular season. This is the first postseason matchup between teams that each averaged at least 110 points since Phoenix and Portland squared off in the 1992 Western Conference semifinals. Golden State set NBA records in the regular season for effective field goal percentage (56.3) and 3-pointers made (1,077).

The Thunder are healthy entering this series. Golden State has listed center Andrew Bogut as questionable for Game 1 with an abductor strain. He is averaging 5.1 points and 7.0 rebounds in 17.7 minutes per game in these playoffs. I'm not sure he'd even play that many minutes in this series because the Warriors are likely to play super small against the Thunder, the league's top rebounding team by a mile. The Warriors aren't going to beat OKC on the boards so you might as well spread them out.

Take the points, go 'over.' The Thunder are 5-1 ATS in their past six road games. The 'over' is 7-3 in their past 10 on the road. The 'over' is 4-1 in the Warriors' past five.

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Free NBA Pick: Thunder +7½ -105 & Over 223½ -102
Best Line Offered: at Heritage & Pinnacle

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