4 min read

Warriors force a very big Game 6 in OKC, 120-111


OAKLAND, Calif. — If for a second you thought this was going to be easy…

It was pretty obvious, at least to me, from early in the first quarter that the weight of the game was having some influence on the Thunder. The first quarter was full of rushed killshots, hurried possessions and bad decisions. The Thunder wanted desperately to set a tone and keep feeding the doubt they had put into the Warriors in OKC. Nothing went in, and with each one that didn’t, the shots got progressively worse.

Really, by all appearances, it the Thunder should’ve slipped behind by 15, or more. Instead, they trailed by four heading to the second quarter. They hung tight in the second, trailing by eight headed to halftime despite Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shooting a combined 10-29. And much like Game 1, they made their push in the third, basically on will, and had it to four headed to the fourth.

Steve Kerr took a significant risk, sitting Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. And that Warriors’ bench unit started on an 8-0 run, and held the line for the opening five minutes, outscoring OKC 15-8. In some ways, that was the game.

But these are your Thunder, and they don’t often go quietly. With 3:57 left, they had it to six. They needed stops, they needed execution, they needed some breaks. They didn’t get much of any of it. They slipped behind again, and it appeared time to pack up and start thinking about Game 6. Instead, it got to eight. Then Westbrook hit a tough and-1 with 45 seconds left. Down to six. He missed the free throw, went up the ladder to get his own rebound and found Durant who had a chance to cut it to three with 35 seconds left. Front rim.

“Oh, shit,” Durant said. “Yeah, that would have been 30 seconds to go, three-point game. Hell, yeah, I want it back. But I’m living with that. I’m living with that. I can’t think about it. Just move past it. I had a great look. Russell made an unbelievable play, put me in position to knock down the open shot. Maybe I need two guys flying at me, maybe I would have made it. But, yeah, I wish I could have hit that one.”

So, where do things now stand? First the obvious: The Warriors have to produce two more of these. One of them being in the building where they’ve lost by a combined 52 points in two games. Stephen Curry says they’re capable of it. So does Draymond Green. Because of course they are. They won 73 freaking games.

But at the same time, there’s actually some confidence, I think, to come away from in this one. The Warriors gave it everything, and I mean everything, to hold on for dear life. The Thunder missed some shots, but also got discombobulated early. They stayed composed, while not being composed at all. There’s a lot of pressure returning to your home floor to close out, because the consequences of not doing it linger in the back of your mind. Lose, and it’s a Game 7 on the road in Oakland.

Saturday will be the most important game in Oklahoma City since the Game 2 of the 2012 Finals. It’s everything.


  • Donovan was not-so-subtle postgame: “The difference in the game was the fact that they went to the free throw line 34 times. To me, that was something that was very, very difficult to overcome.” That wasn’t in response to a question either. That was in his opening statement.
  • Obligatory: Foul count, 26 on OKC, 18 on the Warriors.
  • Westbrook had a game straight from 2010. He tilted too far to the edge of reckless, and let things get away from him. He didn’t just take bad shots, he ran bad offense. He was out of control in transition, often running himself into trouble. He tried too hard for once. Still: He had 31-7-8 (and seven turnovers), because of course he did.
  • Durant on him and Westbrook taking 59 shots: “No, that’s who we are. We’ve got to be aggressive. When they’re going in, you won’t say anything. But we happened to miss some tonight. But we were aggressive. We were right there. We had an opportunity to win the basketball game. That’s what we do. That’s how we play, like it or not. But like I said, I make four more shots, Russell make five more shots and you’re not really talking about it, so you can’t say nothing when we miss, but don’t say nothing when we make them.”
  • Andrew Bogut was really important for the Warriors. He controlled the interior, rebounded and made it tough for OKC to finish. Didn’t help Steven Adams picked up two quick fouls either.
  • Dion Waiters: zero points on 0-4 shooting. It was bound to happen.
  • Enes Kanter: one point and two rebounds in six minutes. As great as he was against the Spurs, he’s been played off the floor for the most part in this series. Just can’t get a foothold at all.
  • Nazr Mohammed taking a 3 was perfection.
  • The Warriors made a small change, having Curry guard Andre Roberson. And they didn’t completely ignore him this time around. Roberson was able to knock down two 3s, both in the first quarter.
  • After that iffy block foul on Durant in the fourth, he went to Nick Collison to check. Collision said charge. The matter is settled.
  • Anthony Morrow? Anthony Morrow.
  • So Russell Westbrook laughed when Durant was asked about Curry being an underrated defender. The easy headline here is that WESTBROOK LAUGHS AT CURRY’S DEFENSE, but in reality, if you’ve followed Westbrook, it’s a big no-no to ask him about opponents. Especially after a loss. He was asked about Zach LaVine like 10 times last season, a player he’s worked out with. Westbrook ain’t having it.
  • Don’t act like something horrible happened here tonight. The Warriors were always going to be very tough to close on the road. You could see the desperation coming out of them. Part of me wondered if they’d blow the doors off the Thunder. The fact OKC held so tough is a really positive sign that they’re fine.

Next up: Game 6 in OKC on Saturday