There is NO such thing as a sure thing in betting until there are zeroes on the clock. Even if a team needs just three wins in 25 games, you might think, “Psssh, easy,” but you better make like Saint Nick and check that thing twice.
Oklahoma City had a preseason over/under of 22.5 wins — the lowest of any team in the Western Conference. That seemed a little disrespectful, no? I mean — sure, the Thunder lost Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder...and Chris Paul. Billy Donovan was fired after being a co-recipient of the NBA Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award. Also, their key offseason acquisitions included Al Horford, Trevor Ariza, and George Hill — three players way past their primes...but this was a team that had made the playoffs each of the previous five seasons. The Thunder were ready to prove the doubters wrong.
The Thunder came storming — pun intended — out of the gates with a win over Charlotte and a hard fought loss against the Utah Jazz. Through 12 games, the Thunder actually had a .500 record. While the Thunder would never reach that mark again, they would stay relatively close. Oklahoma City finished the month of March with a 113-103 win over the Toronto Raptors to push the team’s record to 20-27.
With 25 games left in the season, there was no chance the team wouldn’t reach the 22.5 win threshold, right? A 3-22 finish? C’mon, at that point you’re just waiting for the season to end to cash that puppy, amirite?
You might not want to check the standings. The Thunder have won just one game since then, and with a 109-93 loss to the Utah Jazz last night, have secured the under. Talk about a tease! The Thunder waggled 23 wins in front of their bettors’ faces for a month and a half, and never let them get the metaphorical carrot. That’s brutal.
I’ve never seen such a bad beat for over backers. Those bettors were probably getting ready to party at the end of March. The Thunder were on pace to win 30.6 games at the start of April and couldn’t get anywhere close. They didn’t even keep their games close — only eight of those 24 games were within ten points. During that stretch, they scored 101.9 points per game and allowed 122.6 points per game — both the worst marks in the league.
In all honesty though, the Thunder were obviously not trying to win games down the stretch. They’ve made it clear that they are trying to rebuild through the draft, and down the final stretch of the season, it seemed like a race with the Minnesota Timberwolves to lose more games and get better odds in the lottery. This was a remarkable stretch of bad play, but since the team’s losing streak only ever reached 14 games, this team’s infamy will probably go unnoticed. Unless you were one of the people who put money on the Thunder winning more than 22.5 games, in which case, I’m glad some people will remember. You? Probably not so much.