By Tyler Leli @jetleli on April 14, 2014
The 2013-14 NBA regular season is now all but done with, and the Oklahoma City Thunder have secured the second spot in the Western Conference. With a 58-22 record, it is clear that the Thunder are one of the best teams in the NBA and one of the favorites to win the 2014 NBA Finals. These five reasons show why the Thunder will win it all this spring.
Over the past four seasons, the Thunder have lost in the first round, Conference Finals, NBA Finals and then the Conference Semifinals. Along they way, they have been brought down by youthful naivete, injuries and a lack of defensive prowess, but they have also learned a load of important lessons. Heading into the 2014 NBA Playoffs, the Thunder will now be a veteran playoff team, and they won't be brought down by bad mistakes.
During the regular season, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson all averaged at least 13 points per game, and Caron Butler, Jeremy Lamb and Thabo Sefolosha scored at least six per game. This shows that Oklahoma City can score by shooting, attacking the rim or working the ball down low. Great depth will be crucial as playoff games get tight.
To beat the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder will need to compete down low, and they can certainly do this. Serge Ibaka brings dominant scoring prowess and an ability to block shots that will be impossible to beat for any power forward. Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams provide great interior defense at center that will combine to make the Thunder impossible to beat down low.
After getting injured during the 2013 NBA Playoffs and beginning of the current season, Russell Westbrook is healthy and back to his best. Westbrook has averaged 21.6 PPG, 6.8 APG, 5.7 RPG and 1.8 STLPG, and has seemed to figure out that Kevin Durant is the main man in town. Look for the point guard to average between 23-26 points per game this spring and to save the rare games when Durant goes cold.
During the regular season, Kevin Durant has been the undoubted best player in the NBA, averaging 32 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 5.5 APG. On any given night, Durant can put 50 points on the board, and he can be the deciding factor in a series against any team in the NBA. After the failures of the last four years, expect Durant to single-handedly make sure the Thunder win it all this year.
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