Skip Bayless doesn’t care what you think. He thinks the Thunder is going down.
The ESPN talking head wrote in his column Friday that the San Antonio Spurs are going to beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in six games. Along the way, the Spurs will, according to Bayless, “decipher the Thunder” or the Thunder will beat themselves.
Why? Not because of poor defending of the 3-point shot or a misstep by Scott Brooks. Bayless says the Thunder will be doomed by “two superstars with cracks in their psyches.”
Yes, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be the reason the Thunder won’t beat the Spurs. For example:
Durant, the runaway MVP, still battles an identity crisis: He says he’s trying to prove nice guys can finish first, yet he finished third in the NBA in technical fouls with 15. Without Westbrook last year, Durant flamed out late in four straight playoff losses to Memphis. He has much to prove in these playoffs, maybe too much.
And on Westbrook:
Westbrook, who often plays with unguardable rage, still has one rock rattling around in his head and remains highly capable of the kind of eight-turnover, 4-for-23 night that drives Durant to technicals.
There’s more. James Harden was the main reason the Thunder beat the Spurs to get to the NBA Finals in 2012. Reaching back into the Bill Simmons book of Thunder trade regret, Bayless says the Thunder blew it by trading the beard. You can read his smackdown of the Thunder and everyone else in the West here.
Just take it in stride, folks. Bayless is in the minority. What are some of the others saying about the Thunder playoff chances:
SI.com’s five-man panel is torn about the Thunder’s chances. Two of its writers pick the Thunder to win it all, two have the Spurs as champs and one picks the Heat. Here’s Lee Jenkins’ reasoning for picking the Thunder in five over the Pacers:
The last time Oklahoma City was in the Finals, it was LeBron’s year, LeBron’s turn. This is KD’s year, KD’s turn. He hoisted the Thunder when Russell Westbrook was rehabbing from his third knee surgery. He scored 25 points or more in 41 straight games. His bonanzas defined the season. He will win MVP. And he should win Finals MVP, too. … Durant’s supporting cast is not what it was in ’12, but Reggie Jackson has emerged along with Serge Ibaka, and Oklahoma City is stronger for the experience it gained.
The people have spoken on ESPN’s SportsCenter:
The votes are in! SC fans think Kevin Durant will win his first title. 1. Thunder 29% 2. Heat 27% 3. Spurs 23% 4. Clippers 11% 5. Pacers 10%
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 18, 2014
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News says if the Spurs can avoid the Thunder, the title is theirs. But if they run into OKC, it’s the Thunder’s time.
In a conference call on Thursday, Jeff Van Gundy said that the Rockets will win the NBA title:
“They (the Rockets) would have to win three straight series on the road, after Portland,” Van Gundy said. “I liked their team from the start. I really do believe the Western Conference team will win it but you could also convince me about San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Clippers as well because all of them are good.”