Time: 9:30 PM CT
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (30-24) is in Oakland for a battle with Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors (41-12). The Thunder has lost four straight and just 1-4 since Andre Roberson’s season-ending knee injury on January 27. The road doesn’t get any easier tonight, as the damaged OKC defense faces a Warriors squad that possesses more firepower than any team in NBA history.
The Warriors, led by Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, enter with the NBA’s best record, scoring offense (115.6 PPG), field goal percentage (50.9 percent), three-point percentage (39.2 percent), and a number of other league-leading statistics. The story line will again be Durant facing Russell Westbrook and his former team, but the game will ultimately come down to the Thunder’s ability to defend and make plays for all 48 minutes — something the team has struggled with recently.
Tip-off is at 9:30 PM CT and will be televised nationally on TNT. The Thunder is a 10.5-point underdog according to OddsShark.
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Jordan Bell: Out — Ankle
Warriors: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia
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Thunder O & D
Warriors O & D
11/22: OKC 108, GSW 91 [BOX SCORE]
Life After Andre. It’s been easy to see the impact of losing Andre Roberson, but that impact will be amplified against a team like the Warriors. Roberson logged 32 minutes in the November 22 win over Golden State, finishing as a plus-14 and scoring six points on 3/5 shooting. More importantly, Klay Thompson was held to just 9 points on 3/12 shooting in the contest — a perfect example of what Roberson’s defense is capable of. Expect the Thunder to have worlds of trouble defending the Golden State attack and don’t be surprised if Thompson finds rhythm with relative ease. Life after Andre gets particularly difficult tonight.
Defending the Three. The Warriors shot 10/31 from downtown on November 22, a clip that is certain to rise tonight. The Thunder has been torched from beyond the arc recently and Golden State shoots an NBA-best 39.2 percent from deep on just under 30 attempts per game. Curry, Durant, and Thompson are all shooting 40+ percent from deep this season and have the ability to cripple a vulnerable OKC defense. Slowing them down from distance will be the ball game.
Embracing the Underdog. If there’s a reason for optimism among Thunder fans, it’s that OKC has gone a league-best 4-1 as outright underdogs so far this season. The team also has wins against these Warriors, the Rockets, Cavaliers and Raptors. There’s been no trouble getting up for the big games, a trend that will need to continue tonight.
Ride the Kiwi. The Warriors are weakest at center, making Steven Adams an important piece of a winning puzzle tonight. Adams went for 14 points and 12 rebounds in the last match-up with Golden State, and can make a monster impact on the offensive glass. If he can create second-chance opportunities, which helps limit the Warriors’ grab-and-go ability, it can be a tremendous boost to the Thunder on both sides of the basketball.
Last Time Was Last Time. Although the Thunder handily defeated the Warriors last time around, it’s important to remember the set of circumstances that led to the victory. For one, the Thunder was healthy and boasted a defense that forced 22 turnovers. Secondly, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 4/18 from the field for 13 total points. For all their strengths, the Warriors do have a tendency to coast and play careless basketball — a fact that has them at 3-2 over the last five games with losses to Houston and Memphis. However, I don’t expect them to beat themselves at home against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. OKC will need to be at its best to come out with a win.
Bad Blood. In case you forgot, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were extremely chippy when facing off on November 22. There was a lot of talking, too much clapping, and, of course, this:
It will be interesting to see their interactions tonight. It’s never pretty and typically quite uncomfortable to watch.
Russell Westbrook (kinda/doesn’t) discusses his approach to tonight’s game. Via Royce Young.
Kevin Durant on how it’s just another game. Asks the reporter “Why do you care so much?” Via Mark Medina.