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Are the Oklahoma City Thunder Really the Best Bet in the West?

5/4/12

Did the two teams destined to make it to the 2012 NBA Finals each win on Thursday night in blowouts on the road?  Both are No. 2 seeds in their respective conferences and could be on a collision course to meet for the NBA championship in June.  However, the Western Conference looks to be a lot more competitive than the East, so the Oklahoma City Thunder will likely have a much tougher time than they did on Thursday in a 95-79 rout of the defending NBA champion and seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of their first-round round series.
 
The Thunder looked a little better than average in taking the first two games against the Mavericks on their home court, winning both by a combined four points.  But Game 3 was another story with Oklahoma City's All-Star forward Kevin Durant finally shooting the ball like he is capable of en route to a game-high 31 points.  Durant had made just 15 of 44 shots through the first two games before connecting on 11 of 15 in Game 3, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
 
Earlier in the night, the Miami Heat cruised to an 87-70 win over the seventh-seeded New York Knicks in the East to go out 3-0 in their series.  Miami's probable MVP winner LeBron James overcame some early foul trouble to score 17 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Heat outscored New York, 29-14.  The Knicks suffered their 13th straight playoff defeat to set an all-time league record for futility in the postseason.
 
As discussed on Wednesday, the Heat have a fairly easy road in the East now that the top-seeded Chicago Bulls are without reigning MVP Derrick Rose due to a torn ACL.  On the other hand, the Thunder have to compete with the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and the third-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, who visit the Denver Nuggets on Friday as 4-point road underdogs.  The Lakers are up 2-0 in their series while the Spurs will be going for a sweep of the eighth-seeded Utah Jazz on Saturday as 5.5-point road favorites following a 114-83 rout in Game 3 on Wednesday.
 
Only time will tell if Miami and Oklahoma City meet for the NBA title.  San Antonio and a couple teams from Los Angeles may have something to say about that before all is said and done.  The fifth-seeded Clippers also head home to Staples Center on Saturday as 3-point home favorites against the fourth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in an important game for both teams since their series is tied at 1-1.  The Lakers will play the Nuggets again on Sunday as the lone Western Conference game on the board that day.

 



 
 

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