Thunder looking ominous as the Lakers lose Kobe to injury
Any hopes the LA Lakers had of going deep into the playoffs ended when Kobe Bryant sustained damage to his left Achilles in their win over Golden State Warriors.
This season has been one of utmost disappointment for the yellow half of LA, and only the most partisan of supports could back them at 20/1 to win the Conference – where their participation is still dependent on the final game of the season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder (60-21) have secured the number one spot in the West, and will be licking their lips at the prospect of a match-up with a Bryant-less Lakers outfit.
The two met in last season’s playoffs when the Thunder emerged 4-1 winners, and their young roster would expect to improve that score should the Lakers qualify over the Utah Jazz this time around.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook lead a side brimming with attacking verve and defensive nous: the Thunder have a Net Points differential of +9.40 per game, which leads the NBA by a whopping 1.59.
Should the Lakers qualify, they’ll have to face OKC again. The Thunder are an appealing 6/5 to make the Finals, especially considering their closest rivals San Antonio Spurs (58-23) are nursing a fairly bruised and battered squad.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the cornerstones of San Antonio’s success in recent times, have all been rested and injured at various times this term, and the lack of continuity has now seen them drop five of their last eight matches; they don’t tempt at 7/4.
While they have split four meetings with the Thunder this season, last season’s Conference final saw OKC end Gregg Popovich’s side’s 20-game winning streak, in an emphatic 4-2 series win.
The Denver Nuggets (56-25) are worth consideration as outsiders, having compiled the NBA’s strongest home record thus far (37-3). They are currently ranked at 9/1 – a good price for a side which has won its last three clashes with Oklahoma this term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing