Preview 61 of 82: Thunder @ Warriors
Time: 7:30 PM CT
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Game Notes: Thunder / Warriors
The Oklahoma City Thunder (34-26) is in Oakland tonight for a showdown with Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors (45-14). OKC is 2-0 against the defending champions this season, boasting an 18.5-point average margin of victory. For whatever reason, the strongest competition has brought the best out of the regularly underachieving Thunder.
The Thunder’s core three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams have all played extremely well in the previous two match-ups with Golden State, as the team has used explosive offense and pesky defense to keep the Warriors from finding their customary rhythm. It will again take a near perfect effort for the Thunder to come out with a victory in the unfriendly confines of Oracle Arena – a spot where the Dubs are 23-7 so far this season.
Tip-off is at 7:30 PM CT and will be televised nationally on ABC. The Warriors are a 9.5-point favorite according to OddsShark.
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Draymond Green: Probable – Shoulder
- Jordan Bell: Out — Ankle
- Patrick McCaw: Out — Wrist
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia
|Team||EFG%||FTA Rate||TOV%||OREB%||OPP EFG%||OPP FTA||OPP TOV%||OPP OREB%|
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Thunder O & D
Warriors O & D
11/22: OKC 108, GSW 91 [BOX SCORE]
2/6: OKC 125, GSW 105 [BOX SCORE]
Steven Adams. If the Thunder is going to go 3-0 on the season against Golden State, it will take another heaping dose of Steven Adams. Big Kiwi has averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds on 65 percent shooting in the two previous match-ups, exploiting the Warriors’ weakness at the center position. His ability on the offensive glass can help stifle the Dubs’ ability to grab-and-go and he will again need to be disruptive on both ends while staying out of foul trouble – something he had a bit of an issue with last time out. He needs to be on the court for OKC to be successful.
Russell Westbrook. The reigning MVP sparked the Thunder’s blowout victory on February 6, scoring 21 points on 9/12 shooting in the first quarter. While it’s unlikely he will recreate such a nuclear start, he will again need to set the tone from the outset. The Thunder goes as he goes and if he gets the offense rolling early, it makes life very difficult for the Warriors.
More Melo. Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points on 8/17 shooting in the Thunder’s win over Golden State on November 22. He was then held scoreless in the second meeting, logging only six minutes before leaving with a sprained ankle. His ability to play within the offense — and not trying to isolate on Draymond Green — will be important for the Thunder offense. If he plays catch-and-shoot like he did on Thursday versus Sacramento (he went 7/12 from deep in that game), the OKC attack becomes much more formidable. You know what happens if he doesn’t.
Defending the Three. The Warriors boast a league-best 39.5 percent clip from downtown, which is bad news for a Thunder team that frequently gets torched from beyond the arc. Golden State is chocked full of shooters that are lethal from deep – Klay Thompson has been underwhelming in the two previous match-ups but is due for a breakout performance against an OKC defense that lacks Andre Roberson. There’s always the possibility of Steph Curry going unconscious and doing his thing, as well. The Thunder defense will need to be on point — particularly Westbrook, George and Josh Huestis.
Kevin. Kevin Durant played very well on February 6, scoring 33 points and hitting 14/15 from the free throw line. As Thunder fans know very well, he’s a scorer capable crushing any defensive game plan. Paul George will again draw the unenviable task of slowing him down – a job that he’s equipped for about as well as anyone else in the league.
Staying Composed. With the Thunder blowing the Warriors out in the previous two match-ups, there’s been very little pressure applied on OKC. Beating the Warriors shouldn’t be such an easy affair and I presume they’ll be much more locked-in tonight. The Thunder needs to weather early storms and stay composed should the Dubs make runs. The crowd will be in it, the atmosphere will be playoff-like, and OKC will need to take care of the basketball and try to execute its game plan in the face of adversity.