Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder At Denver Nuggets

Oklahoma City Thunder AT Denver Nuggets
April 25, 2011 at 10:30 PM, TV: TNT
Opening Line:  DEN -3.5
Current Line: DEN -3
Opening Total:  205
Current Total:  205

OKC leads Series 3-0

Trail Blazers Thunder NBA Game Preview
Durant looks to close out the Nuggets for his first career playoff sweep.

The Thunder will look to complete a 4 game sweep of Denver tonight.  Many did not predict this series to be close and few are surprised that the Nuggets have struggled so badly to contain Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.  Moreover, Denver did not close the season strongly and limped into the playoffs as winners of only 9 of their last 19 games.

It’s not shocking that the Nuggets have struggled.  Coach George Karl said he would have “much preferred to have played Dallas,” as the Nuggets just don’t matchup that well against the Thunder.

“There’s a big part of me that’s disappointed because of our failures,” Karl said Sunday. “But I also know that sometimes some of the best teams lose in the first round because of matchups and circumstances. Oklahoma City does a good job against some of our strengths. We like the rim, and they have four defenders that like to protect the rim, and do it pretty well.”

Nuggets backup guard J.R. Smith almost brought the Nuggets back in the closing moments of Saturday’s loss.  He missed a three at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.  Smith doesn’t take the possible sweep lightly.  “When you’re on the verge of getting swept it’s always embarrassing,” Smith said. “You never want to get swept let alone lose six out of eight to this team in the season. It’s not a good feeling.”

The Thunder must look forward past this series when they close it out tonight with trepidation.  Only five Thunder players have played in the playoffs past the first round, and only one is a starter (Perkins).  Sefolosha, Nate Robinson, Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison are the other four.

Perkins knows, however, looking forward can be saved for after the game.  The closeout game requires concentration from the players who may expect the team down 3-0 to come out lethargic and already defeated.

“The closeout game is all mental,” said Perkins, who won an NBA title with Boston in 2008. “It’s going to have to be a mental game for us, mental toughness. It’s not going to be easy, we’re going to have to stick together and play possession by possession and make sure we make the extra effort.”

Some betting trends:

The total has gone OVER in 4 of OKC’s last 6 games and the Thunder are 8-1 SU in their last 9 games.  The Total has gone UNDER in 7 of the last 10 Oklahoma City Thunder road games and the Thunder are 9-2 SU in their last 11 road games.  OKC is 5-0 SU in their last 5 games against the Nuggets and the total has gone UNDER In 5 of the last 6 against Denver.  The total has also gone UNDER in 4 of OKC’s last 5 games against Denver on the road.  The Thunder are 2-7 SU in their last 9 games on the road against the Denver Nuggets.

Denver is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games and the Nuggets are 18-6-1 ATS in their last 25 games.  The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Denver’s last 25 games and the Nuggets are 12-2 SU in their last 14 games at home.  Denver is 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 games at home and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of Denver’s last 6 games at home.  The total has also gone UNDER in 5 of Denver’s last 6 games against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Denver is 0-5 SU in their last 5 games against OKC and the Nuggets are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 against the Thunder.  The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the last 5 games against OKC and Denver is 7-2 SU in their last 9 games at home against the Thunder.  The Nuggets are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games at home against OKC.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, however, and it’s difficult to stretch the imagination enough to imagine Denver winning any more than one game, if they manage to steal a victory tonight.  As they were last game, they are favored again, but it seems to be only semantics.  If they can’t slow down Durant and Westbrook, as they haven’t been able to all series, the Thunder will wrap it up and move on to the second round.

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  1. After 6 or so years that the Nuggets fail to win more than one game at the playoffs (with the exception of 2007 / 8 ). And looking at the fact that the team is not showing up in tight series (at the 2007 / 8 playoffs, most games were one sided – Denver lost all but one tight game that season), maybe it is time to look into bringing a coach that can mentally prepare a team to the playoffs. Not just win 50 games a year.

  2. Couldn’t agree more…they are definitely stuck in limbo. Blaming Karl could be easy, but he does stress defense (the team, however, except Aaron Afflalo and Nene don’t listen). The difference could be as small as hiring a key assistant. I don’t think Karl is the reason the Nuggets haven’t got over the hump.

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