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Statement Game

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 11/24/2010 2:15:44 PM

A few good handicapping clues can be gleaned by the statement game that the Oklahoma City Thunder displayed last Friday night beating the Boston Celtics in Boston.

First off, bettors are now well aware of the wounded bear syndrome as OK’s best player Kevin Durant was sidelined along with cornerstone player Jeff Greene yet still managed to hold off last year’s Eastern representative in the Finals.

Would love to roll back the clock and start a new schedule so that these teams would face each other again this year but that’s not going to happen and that is a shame.

The game got very chippy late and if these teams did meet again, the Celts would have blood in their eyes.

Late in the game Thabo Sefolosha took exception to a foul by Kevin Garnett, then had words with Paul Pierce. At this point Shaquille O’Neill stepped in and wrapped his hand around Thabo’s neck like he was a rag doll.

No blood, no foul until the next time down court when Shaq floored Russell Westbrook and got a flagrant foul.

In the first match up this year, Boston opened up a big lead in Oklahoma City and coasted in. It was far from a déjà vu run on Friday.

OK won the first three quarters and only scored a dozen in the last stanza to remain on their feet.

Westbrook, who must have outplayed Rajon Rondo in the International tryouts this year because Rondo left camp, undressed the Boston point guard.

Westbrook had 31, dished 6 assists, had 2 steals and was 11 for 13 from the line.

James Harden stepped in for Durant and he played well. He got to the line, ripped down 6 boards and hung up a dozen points.

King of the Congo Serge Ibaka is a much-improved Thunder player and he showed it against Celts going 4 for 7 from the field and pulling off 7 bounds.

One of the best things the Thunder did was defend the perimeter, holding the opponent to 1 for 8 shooting from the 3-point line.

After winning 4 of previous 5 games, OK had every right in the world to waltz into Boston, go through the motions, lick their wounds and move on. But they grew up big time as a team and that kind of feeling should carry on as the season extends.

As far as a betting trend for the young Thunder, bettors should think long and hard about the over/unders from now on.

It’s a short sample, but so far they are over 6-1 at home and have gone over 4-1 on the road and only lost once SU on the road.

The Kids from OK are for real. They played the Los Angeles Lakers as good as anybody except the Celts in last year’s playoffs and believe me, nobody will want to face them this year either.

Well coached by Scott Brooks, his staff will look back at this game and see it as a turning point.



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