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Predictions For Betting On Oklahoma City Thunder – Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview

Posted by Craig Parsons on 10/14/2012 6:54:26 PM

The start of the NBA season in a few weeks will mean the beginning of an important new journey for the team that lost in last season's NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder will be more closely scrutinized than any other team in the league not called the Los Angeles Lakers.

When people in the online sports betting legal realm consider what the Thunder are about to face, they must realize that since the Miami Heat have won an NBA championship, the burden is now on Oklahoma City to prove its greatness to the professional basketball community. Miami answered its critics and doubters after losing the 2011 NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder must walk that same path, and while they have the talent needed to get the job done, they still have to walk over the hot coals of pressure and pay the price needed to lift the Lawrence F. O'Brien Trophy in the middle of June. In the hardwood-based high-stakes poker games that are otherwise known as NBA postseason contests, the Thunder will have to show – in the spring of 2013 – that they can take on and defeat all comers.

Even the ranks of football betting gurus who don't pay a whole lot of attention to the NBA are aware of two very big developments from the offseason that will make it harder for the Thunder to merely repeat as Western Conference champions. First of all, the rival Los Angeles Lakers acquired star center Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic without having to give up big man Pau Gasol. True, the Lakers did part with young and promising center Andrew Bynum, who had already proven his worth in the league to a considerable degree. However, Bynum's knees were somewhat suspect and fragile, making him expendable.
Gasol's ability to hit mid-range jump shots – something Bynum couldn't do (and still can't do) – makes the Gasol-Howard combination lethal. Howard can stay near the basket for post-up offense and putback opportunities, while Gasol can set screens near the free-throw line and give the Lakers the floor spacing they need.

The second occurrence that will make life harder for the Thunder in the coming season is that the Lakers also signed Steve Nash, an elite point guard who wants to win a championship before he retires. Nash is going to make life so much easier for Kobe Bryant, and the presence of so many big names on one roster will make the Lakers, not the Heat, the number one point of focus in the league.

Oklahoma City, due to its agonizingly close failures in last year's Finals, followed by a Game 5 implosion, will be the second most analyzed team in the league.
The Thunder really shouldn't worry about the Heat this season… not because the Heat should be shrugged off, but because the Thunder suffered in the Finals due to their lack of experience. Oklahoma City seemed to be overwhelmed by the moment as much as the Heat. Miami felt the same way in the 2011 Finals against Dallas. If Oklahoma City gets back to the Finals, one should be confident that sixth man James Harden will not wet the bed the way he did in the 2012 Finals against Miami. That alone would be enough to push the Thunder over the top.

The key for this team is to beat the Lakers. How will that happen? It has to start with defense. Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka will have to play their very best low-post defense to contain Howard and Gasol. Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks will have to be smart with his defensive rotations, double-teaming Gasol when possible and hoping that the beefy Perkins can handle Howard one-on-one.

On the perimeter, Russell Westbrook can deal with Nash, but how will Thabo Sefolosha get help against Kobe Bryant? That's going to be the toughest defensive problem facing the Thunder, and if they don't find a way to solve it by the time the playoffs arrive, they're going to have a very tough time against the Lakers this season. Defending the Lakers is the whole key to Oklahoma City's campaign. Success means a return trip to the Finals and a very good chance to beat Miami. Failure means ruination, and the possible disruption of what is expected to be a very fruitful period for this franchise.



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