- PG: Stephen Curry
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Harrison Barnes
- PF: Draymond Green
- C: Andrew Bogut
Game 7 Pick & Preview OKC Thunder vs Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors get to end the 2016 Western Conference Finals on their own terms. The defending champs rode a furious run by Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to complete a 7-point comeback in the final five minutes of an intense game six, and now get a chance to finish off the Oklahoma City Thunder in front of their home crowd at Oracle Arena on Monday night.
Curry wasn’t on top of his game to start, which prompted Thompson to take over and carry the offense, setting forth an array of three-point bombs (and NBA playoff record 11 makes from deep), including an insanely deep contested jumper to begin erasing a seven-point hole late in the game.
Thompson carried the Dubs to close out the game, pouring in a playoff career high 41 points in the win. Golden State got a little help from the Thunder, too, with their smothering defense limiting Kevin Durant (1 for 7 shooting in the final quarter) and leaving no doubt for the final outcome as the seconds ticked away at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
OKC had the game under their control and led most of the way, but just as the Dubs had done so many times during a season that included a league record 73 wins, they never stopped fighting and out-lasted the Thunder. It was quite a rally and seemingly against all odds, as the Thunder had seemed unbeatable on their home floor and Golden State’s kryptonite all year appeared to be road playoff dates.
There is still one more game to be played, however, and a two-sided question staring these foes in the face with the series tied, 3-3. Will the Thunder cut a ridiculous comeback short and punch their ticket to the 2016 NBA Finals, or will the Warriors make good on their new found momentum and be just the 10th team ever to live on beyond a 3-1 series hole?
Golden State Warriors Team Preview
The Dubs came out a bit rattled and seemed to be forcing the issue a bit too much in the early going of their insane game six win, but their solid defense kept things tight and an unstoppable offensive display by Klay Thompson sealed the deal and gave them new life.
The recipe for success remained the same, however, as Andrew Bogut played a solid 27 minutes and gave the Warriors a rim protector and a little extra rebounding help. He wasn’t nearly as effective as he was with a monster double-double in game five, but his size and passing (four assists) certainly played a role.
Golden State surprisingly won despite losing in the rebounding department, but much of that was given up early with OKC getting several second and third chance opportunities off of offensive rebounds in a sloppy start in the first quarter. The Dubs rebounded well from there, however, for the most part leveling out with the Thunder on the boards.
The story was obviously about Thompson going full blaze in this one, but we also cannot forget about the fantastic defense of Andre Iguodala, who even ended up starting the second half for a yet again ineffective Harrison Barnes. Iggy possibly starting game seven could be something to look for, but regardless of his starting status, he’s certainly been a huge factor these last two games and should be again at home in game seven.
The major silver lining for the Dubs is their overall defense and offensive flow have both been far better over the last two games, yet they still haven’t enjoyed a trademark blow up game from league MVP, Stephen Curry. It’s possible Curry saves his best for last in front of the Oracle Arena faithful, and if the Dubs are to pull off this three-game run, that may have to be the case.
|5/28/16||at Thunder||Win 108-101|
|5/26/16||VS Thunder||Win 120-111|
|5/24/16||at Thunder||Lost 118-94|
|5/22/16||at Thunder||Lost 133-105|
|5/18/16||VS Thunder||Win 118-91|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
It’s tough to ignore the fact that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook easily get to 26-28+ points per game every night out, but one thing has been just as evident: they don’t do so efficiently. Both struggled from the floor overall in game six, while also combining for eight turnovers. Three of those came at the worst possible time, as the Thunder choked a seven-point advantage away late.
It’s tough to see how OKC blew this game beyond allowing Klay Thompson to go nuts from deep, as they won in the rebound department, led for the majority of the game and even held a seven-point lead with five minutes to go. OKC broke down late, however, scored just 18 points in the final stanza and simply did not get elite play out of their two best players.
Beyond that, the Thunder looked like the aggressor for the first three stanzas, getting stellar play out of Serge Ibaka (13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) and solid supporting help out of Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. OKC played aggressive defense from the tip and looked to be in full control in front of their home crowd until caving late in this one.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
Part of that was certainly Golden State’s refusal to go quietly, however, as the Dubs just went nuts from long range in the final quarter and also inflicted smothering team defense. While things look bleak for OKC heading into game seven, they still have the superstar talent, supporting cast and coaching to execute their game plan and finish the job to get to their second NBA Finals.
The fact that this game seven is on the road at Oracle Arena does not bode well for them, but it’s worth noting that OKC did steal a big win here in game one and has been impressive on the road during the playoffs, winning five of their last eight trips away from home. That is comforting, but they’ll still need huge performances from KD and Russ, as well as strong outputs from their supporting cast. Any kind of slip-up, and the Thunder could be as good as dead in an extremely hostile environment.
|5/28/16||VS Warriors||Lost 108-101|
|5/26/16||at Warriors||Lost 120-111|
|5/24/16||VS Warriors||Win 118-94|
|5/22/16||VS Warriors||Win 133-105|
|5/18/16||at Warriors||Lost 118-91|
Thunder at Warriors Game 7 Preview
This has overall been an amazing series, with both of these teams now expressing some type of elite resistance or dominance through the first six games. OKC got a tight win in game one and two blowouts, while the Warriors got one blowout and prevailed in two hotly contested matchups.
The fast paced these games have been, the better suited the Dubs have been in the matchup, and when Golden State is clicking and hitting from outside, they’ve proven to be unbeatable.
|5/28/16||Warriors 108, Thunder 101|
|5/26/16||Warriors 120, Thunder 111|
|5/24/16||Thunder 118, Warriors 94|
|5/22/16||Thunder 133, Warriors 105|
|5/18/16||Warriors 118, Thunder 91|
|5/16/16||Thunder 108, Warriors 102|
|3/3/16||Warriors 121, Thunder 106|
|2-27/16||Warriors 121, Thunder 118 (OT)|
|2/6/16||Warriors 116, Thunder 108|
|1/16/15||Thunder 127, Warriors 115|
|1/5/15||Warriors 117, Thunder 91|
|12/18/14||Warriors 114, Thunder 109|
|11/23/14||Warriors 91, Thunder 86|
The real key for the Warriors has been a total team effort that leads to a complete game. When everyone has come together to both play defense and share the ball to the point where the best shot is being taken, they’ve thrived. When they’ve strayed from their main offensive strategy and forced the issue or taken quick, bad shots, they’ve suffered immensely.
It looks like Golden State has their groove back, and with a home game in game seven for a chance to get back to the Finals, it’s extremely tough to bet against them. Having figured out OKC’s switch defense and wisely put Bogut on the floor more to counter the Thunder’s size, it looks like everything has evened up and the huge edge OKC once had has been obliterated.
There is also the case of the Thunder’s psyche, as they had a huge 3-1 series lead and have lost each of the last two games in depressing fashion. Can they regroup and seal the deal in an impossible setting, or will they get steam-rolled by the team that should have been controlling this series all along in the first place?
|Win/Loss||73-9 (39-2 at home)||55-27 (23-18 away)|
Recommended Game 7 Bet
It has been very difficult to predict games against the spread the past few weeks, regardless the playoff series. The second you think the Raptors are dead, they beat the Cavs in two straight. Just when you start to trust Toronto, they get crushed two games in a row. The same goes for OKC, who two games in a row now could not finish off the defending champion Warriors.
What does that tell us? You don’t trust in the Raptors when they’re playing the Cavs and you probably shouldn’t bet against a team that just won 73 games. The deal here in game seven on Monday is the Warriors have all of the momentum, all of the confidence and they get to give it their all in front of their home crowd with a trip back to the Finals on the line. It’s true that OKC could still win or at least keep this tight, but the Dubs traditionally destroy teams at home and they have zero pressure here.
They were supposed to be dead in the water, down 3-1, and yet they stormed back for the mere chance to choke out the Thunder on their home floor. We can probably expect a strong effort from OKC early, but game seven’s have a tendency to go very far in one direction. Look for the Dubs to pull away in the third and close this thing out with a bang.
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