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NBA Finals 2012 Odds: Why Oklahoma City Thunder Are Clear-Cut Favorites

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IJune 11, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks attempts to go up for a shot against Serge Ibaka #9 and Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second half in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the favorites to win the NBA Finals with odds of 10:17, while their opponents, the Miami Heat, have 3:2 odds, according to Bovada.

It might be surprising that the team with three superstars on their roster, Miami, aren't the favorites in this series.

It isn't always that easy, and the odds for this series clearly reflect that.

Oklahoma City has some very important advantages over Miami that makes them the clear-cut favorite to win this series.

Here they are.

Size

The Heat have been looking for a solution down low all season but have been largely unsuccessful with guys like Joel Anthony, Ronny Turiaf and Udonis Haslem. None of the players mentioned have done enough to sure up this team's defense in the paint.

OKC has a much different situation on their roster.

Kendrick Perkins roams the paint and is one of the best insurance policies in the league behind the Thunder's perimeter defense. Serge Ibaka, a runner-up to the Defensive Player of the Year award, gives Oklahoma City a huge size advantage on the defensive end.

Nick Collison also ensures the Thunder won't miss a beat when either Perkins or Ibaka is on the bench.

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LeBron James and Dwayne Wade will have their work cut out for them in regards to getting to the hoop. That is the focal point of Miami's offense and, without it, the Heat will have to settle for many more jump shots.

Such an approach takes Miami out of their comfort zone offensively and will make it supremely difficult to pull out a victory in this series.

Depth

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 06:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts after getting knock to the court against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 6, 2
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A problem throughout this season, Miami's bench is a little short. That hurts this team in a few ways.

Miami's starters must log more minutes each game in order to avoid losing a beat offensively. That's a result of the Heat lacking a better scoring option off their bench.

As a result, either D-Wade or LBJ must be on the floor at all times.

It's a normal occurrence to have one on the floor while the other sits, taking away valuable minutes that could be spent having both star players on the floor at the same time.

The Thunder have the Sixth Man of the Year award winner James Harden coming off their bench.

Harden is the spark off the bench that every NBA team wishes they had, and the guard can often revive OKC when they become stagnant offensively.

Miami can't afford to match up their bench with that of Oklahoma City's. When that scenario presents itself, OKC must take advantage to get themselves ahead.

Late Game Strategy

It's no secret Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has done a terrible job—along with his players—at getting the job done in the last seconds of close games. Miami is clearly a team that thrives in blowouts, not in nail-biters.

This is the NBA Finals.

Blowouts will be few and far between if they happen at all. Miami can't expect to win by big margins against fellow NBA powerhouse, Oklahoma City.

Both teams are simply too good to be routed, so expect each and every game to come down to the wire.

While the Heat have struggled in such situations, the Thunder have enjoyed their late-game strategy: Kevin Durant.

Head coach Scott Brooks simply gives Durant the ball and the 23-year-old makes magic happen. He's certainly been better with big shots in these playoffs than fellow superstar, King James.

Tougher Road to the Finals

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts to a foul next to Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the forth quarter at the Staples Center on January 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers defeated t
Harry How/Getty Images

Looking at each team's respective path to the finals, the Thunder have had a much tougher schedule than their opponents from South Beach.

The Heat lucked out after the Chicago Bulls were decimated by an injury to their star point guard, Derrick Rose. As a result, the best team in the Eastern Conference was out of the way.

After disposing of the seventh-seed New York Knicks, Miami went on to beat the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics.

While they are solid teams, none of them compare to the teams the Thunder had to get by.

The Thunder had to get past the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. Not only did OKC have to get past the tougher conference, they had to top the only three teams responsible for winning the Western Conference since 1999.

The tougher road to the finals proves the Thunder can beat elite teams in a playoff series. The jury remains out on the Heat's ability to do the same.

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