NBA Playoffs 2014: Why Oklahoma City Won’t Win The NBA Finals
As we explained yesterday in the first edition of this series, we’re dedicating the next few days to determining why none but a select few teams have any chance at hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy come June.
Today, we tackle the Oklahoma City Thunder. This is a team that earned the No. 2 seed in the ultra-competitive Western Conference and boasts a 6’10” scoring machine that will likely take home the league’s MVP trophy for 2013-2014. Unfortunately for all you Thunder fans out there, this isn’t OKC’s year and these are the reasons they’ll fall short.
Why OKC Won't Win The NBA Finals
Do you remember how the Thunder got to Oklahoma City in the first place? They haven’t always been there, kids. Oklahoma businessman Clay Bennett bought the Seattle SuperSonics in 2006 with a promise to keep them in the Emerald City. Within two years, the team had moved to Oklahoma City. Have you ever been to Seattle? It’s full of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Betraying those fans as Bennett did is asking for trouble. The Curse of the Sonics, anyone?
The Thunder don’t have this guy
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are so unbelievably talented that OKC has won 119 games over the last two seasons despite trading an All-Star for a package that doesn’t include a single player that will make a meaningful contribution in the playoffs this season. Still, the fact that the Thunder cheaped out and traded James Harden instead of signing him to a max deal and paying the luxury tax was totally indefensible and will cost them a title this season and more in the future. If only.
The Thunder do have this guy
Nothing against my man Fish and his bulging biceps, but his greatest moment as an NBA player was 10 years ago, and he played against Mark Jackson (you know him as the Warriors’ coach). If 39-year old Derek Fisher is averaging 18 minutes a game for your team, you’re probably not winning a title.
Russell Westbrook is an insanely talented and athletic player who routinely makes plays that leave you wondering, “What did I just see?” Unfortunately, he knows how much ability he has and has a supreme confidence in it. This often leads to him jacking up bad shots and gambling for impossible steals, which leaves the Thunder defense at a disadvantage. He can play the Thunder out of the postseason if he doesn’t remain Robin to Durant’s Batman.
In the history of the NBA, only three players have won the scoring title and an NBA Championship in the same season: His Airness (he did it six times. This is your cue to bow down), Shaq in 2000 and Kareem in 1971. Kobe hasn’t done it. LeBron hasn’t done it. Wilt Chamberlain never did it. Durant won the scoring title this year for the fourth time in five years. Unless his supporting cast steps up in the Playoffs, he’ll walk away without a ring once again.
Remember the Heat fans that left the building last year when they thought Miami was about to lose? OKC has the second most bandwagon fans in the league. What if that happens to the Thunder? For a team that feeds off the crowd’s energy, it could be devastating.
(Note: This one is mostly just me hoping that those bandwagon fans don’t get another title to celebrate. Pick a team and stick with it, already!!!!!)
The Grizzlies, Clippers, Spurs, and Heat
Those are the four teams that the Thunder will likely have to go through to take home the championship. That is one heck of a gauntlet. Good luck KD and Co.
Why We Are Wrong
Did you see the Slim Reaper for most of this season? The guy was on a five-month heat check and wouldn’t get off. While Westbrook was hurt, he nearly broke his back carrying the team, averaging 35 points per game and putting on the greatest single-season scoring performance maybe ever. The man is a monster and with sidekick Westbrook back in the fold, this team will be a tough out for anyone.
I’m afraid this man will hurt me if I don’t say the Thunder have a chance.