Originally Published: Apr 22, 2010 10:58 AM CDT
I dont get on-line and gamble. I dont call a bookie and make illegal bets. But I do follow lines very closely. And to those of you who dont believe Hall of Fame caliber coaches like Eddie Sutton dont, youre either naive or uniformed---or both. Eddie has told me on more than one occasion what Ive believed for many a year.
The line is the most accurate pregame indicator of how Team A stacks up with Team B. That kind of information is useful for some coaches and fun for others.
So after that preamble, let me say that after following lines closely for over 35 years, the betting line on tonights game is the most staggering of any Ive ever seen. I dont disagree with how they see the game playing out. Its that I am just floored over the concept of how quickly things have changed for our NBA franchise.
The OKC Thunder is a 3 point favorite over the defending world champion LA Lakersin the playoffs nonetheless. Those same odds makers would have posted a line of 1,000 to 1 a year ago that that would happen this season. Thats how remarkable this season has been.
The pressure has shifted dramatically. OKC was expected to lose in Game 1 and 2 in their best-of-seven NBA playoff series. And despite a gallant effort in both games, they did.
But now the roles are switched. Crazy or not, the nation expects OKC to win. And they must win if there is any realistic hope of taking the series. A loss tonight would mean OKC would have to win four in a row to advance. Winning four of five is hard enough. Four in a row is all but mathematically impossible.
The Thunder will feel enormous pressure to perform for what will be the loudest basketball crowd in state basketball history. Yes, louder than Bedlam. 18,000 plus pulling for one team. The bar is pretty darn high.
Realizing the Thunder must win four of five makes you reflect back to the importance of Game 2a winnable game despite the worst and most one-sided officiating I have ever seen. Do you realize how important the final ten seconds of Game 2 were? If Kevin Durant or Jeff Green had hit one of the three-ball attempts and OKC had walked out with a stunning win, the reality would have meant that OKC would have stolen a home court advantage.
But Kobe and the refs made sure that was not going to happen (those of you who know me know that I rarely use bad officiating as an excuse for a loss and have complained two times in my career about officiatingthe Oregon/OU debacle and the Texas Tech/OU train wreck).
At the end of the dayliterallythe Thunder will win its first playoff game and beat LA by double digits.
Let me repeat, the unimaginable. At the end of the day, the OKC Thunder will have gone from a 23-win team to a season ago, to one that will have fulfilled odds makers expectations. The only thing I disagree with them on is the margin. I say they are under-selling Big Blue. The Thunder will beat the Lakers by double digits.
Book it. On second thought, dont book it. Relish it. On a night when the storied OU football program has its most impressive NFL draft haul in school historyand a night when OSU makes a statement of its on, we get to experience a record-setting night in basketball.
So savor on Oklahoma. We all deserve it. Weve all constantly turned the other cheek for years and years at all the East and West Coast snobbery about us Jed Clampets on the fruited plains.
Tonight is a one-time thing. We are in uncharted waters. Virgin territory. Sammy Heisman. Three or four other first-rounders from our state. The spotlight is on us.
Win or lose, enjoy the moments.