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Thunder vs. Warriors Game One – NBA Playoffs

We are down to the Final Four, and thanks to an extended series in the East, we don’t even have to endure a day without hoops waiting for it to start.  The Raptors vanquished the heat in less-than-dramatic fashion yesterday as DeRozan and Lowry awoke for 63 points combined.  Is it a sign they are ready to give the Cavs a reasonable series?

Either way, it was an anti-climactic end to a series that was incredible competitive with three overtime games and a bunch of tightly-knotted games throughout.  Shame on me for defying the fundamental principle in NBA Playoff series – the home team WINS Game Seven.  I took the loss yesterday, but am ready to get back on the court tonight with the start of the feverishly-anticipated Western Conference Finals in Oakland.

Let’s dive in to tonight’s free pick.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors -7.5

Is it so outrageous to think the Thunder have a chance in this series?  Sure, the Warriors just reeled off the greatest regular season in the history of the NBA and won a whopping 18 games more than the Thunder, including one of the more thrilling games of the season where Steph Curry’s casual 38-foor buzzer beater took down the Thunder in Oklahoma City…

But it is that final game I am staking my claim that this series will be TOUGH upon.  The Thunder were RIGHT there with the Warriors in their matchups.  It is nice to know the Warriors CAN win games with 40-footers.  It is slightly concerning to think they might NEED to.

When you can put Durant and Westbrook on the floor, you always have a fighting chance.  The Warriors are the obvious favorite, but I am not sure the margin is quite as wide as an eight point spread in the opener and a -415 series price indicates.  I suppose compared to the Cavaliers -1700, it seems reasonable, but it is still a pretty steep price to lay down.

So what happens tonight?  Do the Warriors exert some dominance, flex their home-court chops and leave any lingering doubt over health concerns in the dust?  Or do the Thunder keep things close and let everyone know, this is going to be a few good weeks of television en route to the Finals.

I am banking on the latter.  The Thunder have owned a massive rebounding edge in their head-to-head games this year, including a 62-38 edge in the last loss.  Yes, it was still a loss, but if you outrebound a team by 24 and force them take 40-footers to win in dramatic fashion, things will eventually go your way.

Look for Westbrook to make Curry work like no other point guard in the NBA can and for Durant to do the same to Draymond.  Can OKC get away with the big lineup that bent San Antonio to submission?  It will be fascinating to see if they can throw that against the Warriors small “Lineup of Death” and see which team has to size-adjust first.  If the Thunder can get away with Kanter on the floor, they can score with Golden State.  It is just a matter if they can defend enough…

I like Golden State to win this series, but I think we are in for a compelling one at the very least.  Starting with a good game tonight.

Free Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder +7.5