After posting dominant victories in two of the first three games of the Western Conference Finals, many former critics are jumping on the bandwagon of the Oklahoma Thunder.
Heading into game four against the Golden State Warriors, according to RealBet.eu Sportsbook, the odds for this matchup have the Thunder as one point favorites.
Given that they won game three by 28 points after rallying to win the first game 108-102 on the road to claim home court advantage, those odds may be underselling the Thunder a bit.
Since Russell Westbrook joined the Thunder in 2008, the strength of the team has been the two-headed monster of the 6-foot-3 inch Westbrook and the 6-foot-9 inch Kevin Durant.
In game three against the Warriors, Durant scored 33 points and Westbrook added 30 points. During their game one win, Westbrook had 27 points and Durant 26. In Golden State’s win in game two, Durant had 29 points and Westbrook 16. Westbrook has registered 12 assists in each of the three games of the series.
While the two stars have been generally consistent, the key to success for the Thunder is the play of their remaining players.
In game one, three other Oklahoma City players reached double digits, including 16 points for Steven Adams. Only Durant and Westbrook registered double figures in the game two loss.
The dominating game three win had four other OKC players, ironically not including Adams, reaching double digits. Serge Ibaka had 14 points, Andre Roberson and Dion Walters each had 13 points and Enes Kanter had 10.
During the regular season, Kanter averaged 12.7 ppg and Ibaka 12.6. Waiters added 9.8, Adams eight per game and Roberson 4.8 points per contest.
If the Thunder are to continue their hot play and keep the 73-regular season win defending champion Warriors from repeating, they will need continued strong play by the other members of their rotation.
The Thunder reached the NBA Finals in 2012, but have not been able to make it back since. Injuries even kept them out of the playoffs in 2015. With Durant having the potential to leave as a free agent after this season, the time is now for the Thunder and they certainly appear to be well positioned to return to the NBA Finals and potentially claim their first NBA title since relocating from Seattle in 2008.