Wednesday Bolts: 11.22.17
ESPN previews tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors: “The first star-studded meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder takes place on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City in what resembles an All-Star game more so than a regular-season affair. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN App. Assuming Kevin Durant’s sprained ankle is sturdy enough for him to play, the contest will feature seven combined players who made the All-Star team last season, in Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for the Warriors and Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony for the Thunder.”
The Warriors are five point favorites tonight in OKC. Via Bleacher Report: “The Warriors opened as five-point favorites; the total is at 224, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. Golden State remains the best team in the West if not the entire NBA, but this will be another good test for the defending league champions.”
Connor Letourneau (San Francisco Chronicle) on Kevin Durant being questionable for the game: “After going through a light practice Tuesday with no problems, Durant — listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game in Oklahoma City with a sprained ankle — is optimistic that he’ll be able play just his second game as a visitor in the place he once thought he’d call home for the rest of his career.”
Fred Katz on the Warriors potentially being what the Thunder needs right now: “Maybe that’s what the Thunder need right now. Maybe they could use the challenge. Maybe they could even learn from a team they were supposed to at least bother blowing them out of their own building. Maybe it’s a wake up call to see what is or is not working. Or maybe, as Westbrook would attest, it doesn’t matter much because the trends will either solve themselves or continue independent of one November evening.”
Royce Young on Russell Westbrook and Paul George trying to create a connection similar to Russ/KD: “Westbrook and Durant built something special, a dynamic relationship that featured plenty of ups and downs but produced brilliant chemistry on the floor. When it was good, it was really good. Westbrook and George don’t have that yet, with both players still in search for the right kind of balance early in this experiment. Westbrook is a domineering personality, and George content to go with the flow. But Westbrook has often spent time in the locker room after games reaffirming to George to be an aggressive, assertive player. Because what will make the relationship blossom, like Westbrook and Durant before, is mutual trust and confidence in the other.”
KD was greeted at the airport by a few fans last night in OKC. Via Warriors.
Mark Medina (Mercury News) on KD feeling more at peace on this trip to Oklahoma: “But while the Thunder has changed its team identity since Durant last faced them in Oklahoma City, Durant believes he has changed his personal identity. Durant may have inflamed his former team when he critiqued Thunder coach Billy Donovan and a lack of supporting staff in a tweet written in the third person. And since then? Warriors forward Draymond Green summed up, “he’s just not worried about all the other stuff. He’s just playing basketball.”
Colin Ward-Henninger (CBS) on KD’s assertion that this is just another game: “Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.”
Sam Amick (USA Today) on the Thunder’s slow start: “Not only are the Thunder struggling to mesh early on, but this team full of would-be closers can’t seem to figure out how to close. They have blown leads of 10 points or more in six of their nine losses, including a lead of 23 against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and 19 against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. Yet even through this early season in which they can’t seem to find the right recipe, and even with the spoonfuls of skepticism that are coming their way, this much remains true about this group that has so much potential: They’re taking the long view.”
Around the League: Boogie Cousins says “big man rebounding” led to his ejection on Monday…. Paul Millsap could miss up to three months after wrist surgery…. Ray Allen was catfished in a very strange story…. The Trump/Lavar Ball feud continues.