Time: 7:00 PM CT
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC/97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (45-33) will face the Golden State Warriors (56-21) tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the fourth and final match-up between the teams. Oklahoma City currently leads 2-1 in the season-series and could become the first team to beat the Warriors three times in a single regular season since 2013-14.
The Warriors are locked into the two-seed in the Western Conference no matter what happens, but tonight can be considered another must-win for the Thunder. OKC currently trails the fourth-placed Spurs by a half game and is just a half game up on the sixth-placed Jazz. Russell Westbrook & Co. will get some help from the injury bug that has recently bitten Golden State, as they will be without a number of key pieces. Even still, it’s no easy task beating a team that features Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.
Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM CT and the game will be televised on TNT. The Thunder is currently 4.5-point favorite according to Bovada.
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Steph Curry: Out — Knee
- Omri Casspi: Out — Ankle
- Shaun Livingston: Out — Personal
- Patrick McCaw: Out — Back
- Andre Iguodala: Out — Knee
- Kevon Looney: Out — Flu
- Kevin Durant: Probable — Ribs
- Klay Thompson: Probable — Thumb
Warriors: Quinn Cook, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia
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Thunder O & D
Warriors O & D
OKC leads the season series 2-1
Nov 22: OKC 108, GSW 91 [BOX SCORE]
Feb 6: OKC 125, GSW 105 [BOX SCORE]
Feb 24: GSW 112, OKC 80 [BOX SCORE]
Defending the Three. Although the Warriors will be without Steph Curry, the Thunder will need to focus on defending the three-point line. Durant (43 percent), Thompson (44 percent), Quinn Cook (42.5 percent), and others are all more than formidable from long distance. Teams have shot nearly 37 percent from downtown against the Thunder this season — the ninth-highest opposing three-point percentage in the NBA. OKC held the Dubs to 32 percent and 28 percent from deep in the two wins. Golden State hit 44 percent (17-of-38) in their one victory.
Cooling Quinn Cook. The 25-year-old has filled in admirably for Curry, averaging 15 points per game on 50 percent shooting and 42.5 percent from three in 15 starts this season. He’s put up 17.4 PPG, 5.4 APG and shot 50 percent from downtown in the five games since Curry went down with an MCL injury. If the Thunder gets too preoccupied with defending Durant and Thompson, Cook is certainly capable of making OKC pay. Westbrook will need to pay attention on defense in this one, something he does infrequently enough to keep it interesting.
Forcing Turnovers. The Warriors are a team with few flaws but they do have a propensity to act careless with the basketball. Their 15 turnovers per game is fourth-worst in the NBA, a statistic OKC took advantage of in its two wins over the Warriors this season. Golden State averaged 23.5 turnovers per game in their two losses to the Thunder. In their one blowout win, the Dubs coughed it up 14 times.
Russ & PG13. Russell Westbrook and Paul George were both fantastic in the two wins over Golden State this season. Russ averaged 34 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 9 assists in the victories, with PG13 adding 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals per contest. However, in the February 24 loss, the two men combined to score 20 points on 5-of-29 (17 percent) shooting. (George was particularly bad, shooting just 1-of-14.) Even against a short-handed Dubs team, the Thunder won’t win unless its star duo leads the charge as they did in the first two match-ups. (Steven Adams will be nearly as important but has been consistent against Golden State this season. He’s scored 14 points in every contest.)
Melo. Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting in the Thunder’s November 22 win over the Warriors, then missed all but six minutes (and went scoreless) in the February 6 win. He contributed 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting in the blowout loss on February 22 — an excusable poor night shooting the basketball considering the team combined to hit just 33 percent of its shots. In theory, Melo should be a devastating element in any match-up with Golden State. If he falls into old habits and tries to isolate on Draymond Green, we’re all going to have a bad time.
Kevin. Even in a game packed with Thunder playoff implications, the story line will be another Kevin Durant return to Oklahoma City. This is his third time playing as a visitor at the ‘Peake, going 1-1 and averaging 27.5 PPG in the first two games on his former home floor. As per usual, the reception he gets from the crowd and his interactions with Westbrook will take center stage. Expect boos, venom, and vitriol. I’d say this is just another game but I never lie on Tuesdays.
KD discusses the possibility of facing the Thunder in the playoffs. Via News 9.