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Thunder vs. Warriors: Game 2 Pregame Primer

Thunder vs. Warriors: Game 2 Pregame Primer



Western Conference Finals (Best 4 of 7)

Thunder (9-3, 5-1 road) vs. Warriors (8-3, 6-1 home)

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 8:00 PM CST

Thunder lead 1-0

Playoff Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats – out of 16 teams)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.5 (3rd), Warriors – 111.7 (2nd)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.6 (6th), Warriors – 98.8 (3rd)

I always thought the words, “It’s only one game,” were important only in defeat. It’s a great defense mechanism to help alleviate any fear anyone may have heading into the next game. It worked for the Oklahoma City Thunder in their 2nd round series against the San Antonio Spurs, when they were trounced in the first game by 32 points. Eventually, they calmed the seas and won the series in 6 games.

But this feels different. It’s a little weird approaching Game 2 from the other side of the spectrum. The Thunder weren’t destroyed in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Instead, they gritted and grinded their way to a victory in the first game of the series. Instead of celebrating the victory, they reacted similarly to how they did after Game 1 in the previous series: “it’s only one game”. The Thunder have matured past of the point of celebrating in-series victories. They know the prize lies after the 16th victory, not the 9th. But the Thunder also succeeded in accomplishing the goal of every team that starts a playoff series on the road: they got one at the other place. Win out on your home floor from here on out and the series is yours.

3 Big Things

1. Feeling of Satisfaction

I’m a bit pessimistic and pragmatic at the same time; characteristics that make me a Debbie-downing realist most of the time. With that said, I fully expect the Warriors to win Game 2. They will come out desperate, making sure to attack the Thunder at every possible point of weakness. They will likely find better ways to get Stephen Curry the ball in his comfort spots or put the others in better position to be successful on the floor. They will likely be the aggressors and the refs will likely reward that aggressiveness with multiple trips to the charity stripe. So, in my head, I’ve prepared myself for the series to be tied 1-1 by the time the clock strikes midnight tonight.

Here’s what I don’t want to see tonight: a blowout victory by the Warriors because of a lack of effort from the Thunder. The Thunder accomplished what every road team wants at the start of a series: to win one of the two games in the opponent’s arena. They exerted a ton of energy in getting that first victory, playing Kevin Durant 46 minutes and Russell Westbrook 40 minutes. It would be human nature for there to be a let-down in Game 2. But that’s the thing with the Warriors: you can’t give them a sliver. The Warriors are the ultimate “you have to step on their necks”type of opponent. If you can go up 2-0 against them, you do it. Don’t feel satisfied with the 1-1 outcome. Fight for the 2-0 outcome.

2. Free-throws

Both teams shot uncharacteristically bad from the charity stripe in Game 1. Since both teams were bad, it didn’t necessarily alter the outcome of the game. But continue that trend, and these are the types of things that can be the difference between a one point victory or a one point defeat. The Thunder were the aggressors in Game 1, and I fully expect them to continue that for the rest of the series. If you are going to be the aggressor, you have to take advantage of the opportunities. Make your ‘throws, OKC.

3. Kevin Durant

Durant is the type of player that will give you one dud game, one Reaper game, and then be his consistently great self in the other games of the series. If this was his dud game, then the Thunder are in great shape. He shot 10/30 from the floor and had 5 WEAK turnovers in Game 1. But the Thunder won, and in the end, that’s all that matters.