Taking Points Again Is The Way To Go In Thunder vs. Warriors Game 2

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 7:11 PM GMT

Wednesday, May. 18, 2016 7:11 PM GMT

I recommended taking Oklahoma City and the points in Game 1 of the West Finals on Monday at Golden State so I'm not shocked OKC pulled the upset. Let's win NBA betting again!

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors

Warriors Never Blow Big Leads
Before the series, I predicted Warriors in seven games. I'm still sticking with that. Was I surprised that Oklahoma City won Game 1 108-102? Well, it was the Thunder's third straight road win combined against the San Antonio Spurs and Warriors. The rest of the NBA won a total of three road games against those two teams this season. The Thunder franchise had lost its previous 12 Game 1s on the road dating to its Seattle days (0-5 since moving to OKC).

So surprised, yes, but not shocked. I had watched every regular-season meeting between the Golden State and OKC, and the Thunder probably should have won two of them instead of dropping all three. In addition, OKC looked a lot more impressive in knocking out San Antonio in six games in the Western Conference semifinals than Golden State looked in taking out Portland in five games. Plus it's pretty clear that two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry still isn't quite 100 percent on that sprained knee.

The Warriors had been 37-0 this season when leading a game by double digits at halftime. And they led Game 1 60-47 at intermission. But then Russell Westbrook, who had really struggled in the first half, took over and became the best player on the court. Westbrook set a career playoff high for a quarter with 19 points and scored 24 of his 27 points in the second half.

Should Westbrook have been called for traveling with Oklahoma City up 105-102 with a little over 17 seconds left? There's no doubt that Westbrook's planted food slid when he tried to stop and call timeout. It was right in front of Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who quickly screamed for a travel. So did half the arena, but somehow the referee standing right there didn't call it. The NBA admitted after the game it was a mistake. We still don't know that the Warriors would have been able to come back, though. After the timeout, Westbrook was fouled and made one of two free throws to  make it a two-possession game. He had 12 assists and OKC is 15-2 all-time in the playoffs when he has at least 10.

 

Thunder's Big Lineup Does Its Job
So what did the Thunder do right? In the Spurs series, Coach Billy Donovan leaned heavily on his jumbo lineup where Steven Adams and Enes Kanter are on the floor at the same time along with Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. The Thunder absolutely killed the Spurs on the glass with those guys on the court and the same happened on Monday. Adams' emergence has really been the story of these playoffs for OKC. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds and was a team-best plus-19 in Game 1. Kanter had eight points and six rebounds off the bench. Ibaka had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Durant chipped in 10 boards. OKC easily won the rebounding battle and had 15 second-chance points to Golden State's two. The Thunder have now won three straight playoff games in which they trailed entering the fourth quarter. In the regular season, they lost an NBA-high 15 games when leading at the end of the third.

The Warriors have revolutionized the NBA with their small-ball lineup but the one negative of that would be rebounding. That was evident in Game 1. They don't have the big bodies to compete with the Thunder, especially with center Andre Bogut hurting. Then again, the Warriors usually shoot so well from the field that it doesn't matter. But Curry was just 9-for-22 in Game 1 and had seven turnovers (he did set an NBA record by making a 3-pointer for a 45th straight postseason game). Klay Thompson was 11-for-25. The Warriors went 1-of-10 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, their worst 3-point percentage in a quarter in which they took at least 10 attempts this season. Golden State had only 14 points in the fourth, when it shot 26 percent overall.  The Warriors need to dominate when the OKC jumbo lineup is on the floor and take advantage of Adams and especially Kanter as they can't guard the smaller, quicker Warriors.

If I'm OKC, I'm feeling pretty confident going forward because Durant was way off most of Game 1, hitting just 10-for-30. That's not likely to happen again. He was just 2-for-11 in the fourth but after missing five straight shots, he did hit a crucial pull-up jumper with 30.7 seconds left. Westbrook was only 7-for-21 the field. Yet the Thunder still won.

Golden State remains the -180 favorite on NBA odds to win this series. The Thunder are +160 on NBA picks. Golden State has yet to lose back-to-back games all season and won't here, but I'm taking the points again and going 'under.' The home team has covered seven of the past nine meetings. The 'under' is 4-0 in the past four at Golden State. Looking for a profitable moneyline pick instead? Cash in on Warriors winning tonight!

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Free NBA Pick: Under 223
Best Line Offered: at YouWager

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