First it made sense -- and then it didn't. Before the series between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder started, the oddsmakers had the defending champs as solid favorites to prevail in the Western Conference finals.
That seemed logical. After all, the Dubs had cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs hardly breaking a sweat and had home court advantage over the Okies. Plus, OKC hadn't beaten them all year during the regular season.
And then the Thunder went into the Oracle in Oakland and thumped the Warriors fair and square in Game One. That raised a few eyebrows. OKC was now up 1-0 and THEY now had home court advantage for the remainder of the series. And hadn't the Thunder just demolished the San Antonio Spurs?
Surely the odds would swing -- right? But not so. The wise guys in Vegas still weren't convinced. They still had the Warriors as "slight" favorites to win the series. That didn't make sense at all, but the secretive shrewd operators that run the "books" surely know much more than average hacks such as yours truly.
Lo and behold, Golden State came out and put a thorough thrashing on OKC in Game Two. Twenty-seven points worth, to be exact. That's a beatdown. Surprising? Yes and no. The margin of victory was, but this is what can happen when the Warriors obviously made such major adjustments after Game One. They cut way down on turnovers, bad passes, and committing fouls. They pounded the boards and got back into their game of crisply moving the ball, eventually to the open shooter. Plus Steph Curry went off on another 3-pointer barrage. When they play like that, they're almost unbeatable.
Still, the series is tied at 1-1 and OKC accomplished what they wanted. Take at least one of the first two games from GS on the road. They retain home court advantage and the next two will be played in Okieland.
What are the odds OKC wins the next two games at home and goes up 3-1? No idea. I'm not a sports book. Had I been, given my pitiful track record of picking winners and losers, I'd have probably been wearing cement overshoes at the bottom of Lake Mead long ago.
We'll hear all about how crucial Game Three is over the next couple days. Sure, it's important, but hardly a death knell to whichever team loses. Being down 2-1 isn't the end of the world -- either way. However, if OKC is on top, surely the leader would become the favorites to win the series, yes/no? Maybe.
Thing is, even if the Warriors were to go down 1-3 in the series -- facing elimination for the next three straight games -- it's hard to count them out until they actually ARE out. Those guys just never seem to get rattled and, when they get it going, which could be at any time, lookout.
True, Cleveland is playing Toronto in the Eastern Conference finals, equally important, but most everybody assumes the Cavs will prevail. The bookies definitely agree.
But most NBA fans' eyes are on the GS/OKC series. Two down and at least three to go. Or four. Or five.
Here's an unlikely scenario, but it could happen. Let's say GS/OKC are tied 3-3 after six games. That's entirely plausible. The odds of winning the series may have shifted game by game along the way.
A seventh and deciding game would be played in Oakland. No doubt, the Warriors would be highly favored. But they were also favored in Game One at home -- which they lost.
So what would the fallout be if the Thunder were to waltz back into the Oracle as heavy underdogs and upset/eliminate the Warriors in a Game Seven?
The talking heads would go berserk talking about it. Endless replays, stats from hell, diagnostics a forensic scientist would be envious of. Those guys/gals would get so excited and talk so fast they might actually spontaneously combust on the air. That would be interesting. It would be a never-ending loop of analysis -- right up until the NBA Finals started. Then the GS/OKC series would be forgotten quicker than a politician's campaign promises after they get elected. Old news. Doesn't matter any more. Nobody cares who lost in the semi-finals in ANY sporting event for more than maybe 5 minutes. Or the Finals, for that matter. Runner-ups (losers) are quickly forgotten. Over is over. Done is done. The media and fans quickly move on. Who's kidding who?
But the Golden State/Okla City series should be enjoyed while it's playing out. Truly, two very good teams.
Which will prevail would seem to be a very good question.
Forget the wise guys -- got a lucky penny?