J.A. Adande looking at potential future upsets: “The Thunder over the Spurs. That requires a Thunder victory in San Antonio, where the Spurs lost just five times this season. But the Spurs won by only four points in their second meeting in San Antonio (which marked a 23-point improvement for the Thunder from their first meeting). And Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker might not be so inclined to go to the hoop now that Kendrick Perkins is lurking there for OKC.”
Predictions from ESPN.com: Nine of the 11 asked took the Thunder. All agreed in either six or seven games.
John Krolik for PBT on how OKC can win it all: “The Thunder are a young team, and don’t have to bear the burden of expectations the way the other title contenders do. They have some of the best fans in the league. They have great chemistry. They have the confidence that youth brings with very little of the immaturity. They have as much talent as any team in the league, and the mentality of a bracket-busting college squad. That combination can absolutely create a champion. Most are expecting that Oklahoma City’s championship will come a few years down the road, but there’s no reason that it can’t happen for them this year. They know that. And the rest of the league may be about to find that out.”
The Thunder are 12/1 odds to win the NBA title behind the Lakers (11/4), Heat (13/4), Bulls (7/2), Spurs (7/1) and Celtics (15/2). Vegas likes the Thunder to beat the Nuggets in six games (3/1). OKC overall is 5/11 to beat Denver.
John Hollinger with something to scare you: “Since 1983-84, the 4-5 series is 27-27; by individual games, the No. 5 seeds have actually won two more. Take heed, Hawks and Nuggets fans. There’s a good chance that one of you will be celebrating a trip to the second round.”
Zach Lowe of SI with intriguing playoff storylines: “The narrative suggests that the Thunder should be happy to win a playoff series, lose to San Antonio and come back in 2012 to take the next step in their development. But their play since acquiring Perkins suggests that they might be ready to contend for a title now. They whipped Denver (their first-round opponent) in back-to-back games earlier this month, and they’ve been playing elite defense since Perkins replaced Jeff Green in the starting lineup. Do not be shocked if they are playing in June.”
Chris Mannix of SI: “The Nuggets have written a How-To book on trading away a superstar, and with the likes of Gallinari, Nene, Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo in Denver, the future is bright. But Oklahoma City is built to win now. It shored up the front line in the Kendrick Perkins trade, and is now talented, deep and — as a result of last season’s surprisingly hard-fought first-round series against the Lakers — experienced in the postseason. The Nuggets will win one … but that’s it. Thunder in 5.”
The Jones reflects on the season with an in memoriam. Included: The Broingtons.
I’m fascinated by the Wolves and more specifically, David Kahn. I wrote about it yesterday.