Preview 17 of 82: Warriors @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CT
TV: ESPN / Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Game Notes: Thunder / Warriors
Odds: GSW (-6)
Despite warnings that these things take time, it wasn’t supposed to begin like this for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team sits at 7-9, has routinely blown big leads, and has a 2-8 record against Western Conference opponents. Now 34 days into the 2017-18 season, the Thunder will get a look at the team it was built to contend with.
The Golden State Warriors enter with a 13-4 record and are favorites to repeat as NBA champions. Again led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green — and yes — Kevin Durant, the Warriors are every bit as formidable as they were a season ago. At this point it’s obvious I don’t have to explain why that is.
The story line is Durant’s return to Oklahoma City — just the second time he’s laced them up as a visitor at Chesapeake Energy Arena. He was a question mark all week due to a sprained left ankle, but is widely expected to play. This is great news for fans of drama or anyone looking forward to watching a full-strength Warriors team face off against the new-look Thunder. Tip-off is at 7 PM CT on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma.
- Kevin Durant: Probable — Ankle
Warriors Starters: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia
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Notes/What to Watch For
Kevin Returns Part 2: KD dropped 34 points on 12/21 shooting the first time back in OKC, with Golden State waltzing to a 130-114 victory. He averaged 37.6 points and 9.3 rebounds versus the Thunder last season, routinely bringing out his best against his former team. His returns to Oklahoma City were contentious and I’m not certain what to expect tonight. There will be a lot of booing — which is fine. My hope is that it’s equally passionate with less blind rage.
Thunder Start & Finish: The Thunder has made habit of building and blowing sizable leads, but there is zero room for such shenanigans against a team like Golden State. The OKC offense has a tendency to stall and revert to hero-ball as games progress, and the defense becomes more porous with each passing minute. A hot start would be ideal, but it’s more about sustaining effort for 48 minutes.
New Faces/Old Feud: KD torched the Thunder last season, so the addition of Paul George is a welcomed must defensively. This also allows Andre Roberson to slide over and match-up with Klay Thompson. On the other hand, Carmelo Anthony matching-up with Draymond Green seems nightmarish from an effort perspective. Although Melo pulling Draymond out of the paint will make life easier for Steven Adams.
Numbers Game: The Warriors are first in the NBA in scoring, eighth in rebounding, first in assists, first in field goal percentage, so on and so forth. If you’re looking for a hole in the armor, it’s that the Golden State defense is allowing 107.5 points per game — 22nd in the league. Not entirely encouraging given the Thunder’s offensive struggles, but the firepower is there. It would make total sense for the OKC offense to come alive in this one.
KD discusses Westbrook’s season thus far. Via Fred Katz.
Paul George on KD’s relationship with OKC. Via Royce Young.
NBA TV on KD’s first game back in OKC last season: