The Oklahoma City Thunder were dealt a big, but expected, blow Wednesday as they learned star Kevin Durant will indeed be missing the NBA Playoffs after having surgery on his injured foot Tuesday. So, can Russell Westbrook put OKC on his back and win a series or two? Or is picking against the hobbling Thunder the wiser choice?
The Oklahoma City Thunder (42-33, 103.6 PF-101.3 PA) and Head Coach Scott Brooks heard what they didn’t want to hear on Wednesday, but what they sort of knew what was coming, when they heard that SF Kevin Durant would be out for the rest of the Regular Season after undergoing surgery on his injured right foot on Tuesday. Still sitting in the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference and looking like they will play the No. 1-seeded Golden State Warriors in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs—which begin just two weeks from Saturday on April 18th—the Thunder (25/1 to Win NBA Championship, bet365) hold a slim 1½-game lead over the current No. 9-seeded New Orleans Pelicans (40-34). The Thunder now have 7 games remaining on their Regular Season schedule—none with the Pelicans (600/1, BetVictor)—including their next game, a Friday night date with the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, the Memphis Grizzlies (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT; Moneyline Odds; Grizzlies -300, Thunder +164, Bwin) in The BBQ Capital Of The World and The Birthplace Of Rock N’ Roll—two pretty fine things to be extremely proud of if you ask me, The Rolling Stones or Fred Flintstone (He loved him some Ribs. Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, whatever, bruh.), Memphis, Tennessee. And if you don’t like Rock N’ Roll or Ribs, Mr. Readerman, I’m going to have to respectfully ask you to stop reading. A man that don’t like Ribs and Rock N’ Roll but do like Grammar a very dangerous element. Now, vamoose.
Oklahoma City Thunder Possible Starting Five
C—Enes Kanter (17.3. ppg, 10.7 rpg)
PF—Steven Adams (7.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
SF—Kyle Singler (3.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
SG—Dion Waiters (11.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
PG—Russell Westbrook (27.6 ppg, 7.2 apg, 8.6 rpg, 2.5 spg)
Oklahoma City Thunder Bench, Roster Depth
C—Mitch McGary (7.0 ppg)
PF—Nick Collison (4.1 ppg)—IL
SF—Perry Jones (4.4 ppg)
SG—Anthony Morrow (10.2 ppg)
PG—DJ Augustin (8.7 ppg)
PF—Steve Novak (1.6 ppg)
SG—Jeremy Lamb (6.4 ppg)
SF—Andre Roberson (3.5 ppg)
SF—Kevin Durant (25.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.1 apg)—IL
PF—Serge Ibaka (14.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg)—IL
Injuries, Coaching, Intangibles (Potential Playoff Paths)
The Thunder are definitely beat up at this moment for sure, and when two of the guys who are Injured on your team are key components of your starting 5—Durant (right foot) and Serge Ibaka (knee)—then trying to visualize and actually make a decent run in these upcoming NBA Playoffs is basically a Pipe Dream, Bubba—especially when you’re the No. 8-seed in one of the best conferences in all of professional sports and it looks like you’ll be playing one of the hottest teams that’s been seen in awhile (Golden State, 3/1 to win NBA Championship, Sky Bet) with dead-eye guards (Stephen Curry, -300 Regular Season MVP, Paddy Power) and Klay Thompson who could probably swish shots from San Bernardino should they wish. Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh what a good shot he is. Anyway, Oklahoma City (16/1 NBA odds to Win Western Conference, Bwin) also has injury concerns with C/F Nick Collison (left ankle) who is listed as Day-to-Day presently, but the former Kansas star should be back soon. SF Andre Roberson (ankle) is “iffy” to return in the Regular Season, although he was dressed and on the Bench (DNP, Coaches Decision) for the Thunder’s 135-131 loss to the West’s No. 7 seed, the Dallas Mavericks (46-29) at Home at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, almost mathematically assuring that the Mavericks will finish in that same 7-spot and play the Western Conference’s #2 seed, those Grizzlies (51-24; 14/1 Stan James) or possibly even James Harden (+162 Regular Season MVP, Paddy Power) and the now charging-hard Houston Rockets (51-24; 18/1, BetVictor).
Ibaka, Collison and Roberson should all be back for the NBA Playoffs for the Thunder (14/1 to Win Northwest Division, Boylesports), but no Durant, no Good for Oklahoma City, brother. As far as Head Coach Scott Brooks goes, he’s a really good one and has the necessary postseason experience and some tenure in his position in the Sooner State, but hobbled, not having the Homecourt Advantage and playing a team like the Warriors which look like they’ve been touched by God herself is a bad recipe for any coaching staff in 2015, K.D. So, that Potential Playoff Path will likely just be a ticket to the postseason (if New Orleans doesn’t catch them in the next 2 weeks) for the Thunder, who may be lucky just to sneak a W out against Golden State (+170 to win Western Conference, Paddy Power). Should the Thunder strike lightning and somehow miraculously bounce the Warriors in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs, then Oklahoma City would line up with the winner of the No. 4-seed, Portland Trail Blazers (48-26; 50/1, Sportingbet) and No. 5-seed series, the Los Angeles Clippers (50-26; 20/1, Ladbrokes)—two teams I honestly think even a KD-less Thunder club might actually be able to find a way to beat over a 7-game series if everything goes just right. But they won’t play. And should Oklahoma City stumble into the Western Conference Finals, it might get those nasty No. 2-seeded Grizzlies (+800 to Win Western Conference, Sky Bet) or maybe a Texas team like the Mavericks and Rockets. More things that won’t happen.
With the surgery on Durant’s foot on Tuesday, this club pretty much sealed its Fate, but you know Oklahoma City (37-36-2 ATS, 27-14-1 ATS Home, 15-22-1 Away) will probably finish 8th and have Ibaka, Collison and Roberson ready to go to battle with those Golden State Warriors. It will be the postseason, after all. And Thunder General Manager Sam Presti and the team’s fans may have received a little bit of Sugar with their Medicine when on Wednesday, KD—a future Free Agent—told Revolt TV that he wanted to finish his career in a Thunder jersey. Time will tell how true this statement will ring for a franchise which used to call Seattle home and was nicknamed the SuperSonics. For now, just making the NBA Playoffs and not embarrassing themselves is first on the list, followed by preparation for those mighty Warriors.
Oklahoma City is a great Rebounding team (#1 in NBA) and does have Superman Westbrook (+350 Regular Season MVP, Paddy Power) very capable of putting this team on his broad shoulders. And if key role guys like Kanter, Waiters, Morrow and Augustin can all perform at their max and this team gets a little luck, then who knows. But any ideas of an Upset Grande would probably be dependent on the Thunder winning a theoretical (and very probable) game on the Road at Oakland’s O.co Coliseum in Game 1 or Game 2 against a Warriors team which is a torrid 34-2 (losses to Spurs and Bulls) at Home so far this Regular Season. Against Golden State in the Regular Season, the Thunder were 3-1 SU (3-1 ATS), the lone loss coming in the last meeting (Jan. 16) at home at the Chesapeake Energy Center, 127-115, as Durant poured in 35 points in the victory. But without Human Scoring Machine KD, trying to topple the upstart Warriors, who actually have also played some lights-out Defense this NBA season, will be nearly impossible.
For Oklahoma City—which will go limping into the NBA Playoffs (if they hang on) one way or another, just hearing that Durant wants to re-sign and stay with the team and positive thoughts of him returning healthy for the 2015-2016 NBA Season would probably satisfy the Thunder masses more than a Round 1 series upset of the Warriors would. Maybe. Alright, probably not. People are fickle these days and can unknowingly change on a whim. But the thought here is that neither Oklahoma City’s fans’ or players’ hearts will be 100% totally invested in this coming NBA postseason. It’s always impossible to prepare that killer Bacon Cheeseburger of yours when you have all of the ingredients except the cheese.
PREDICTED NBA PLAYOFF DESTINY: Oklahoma City Thunder Eliminated in First Round by Warriors
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