- PG: Stephen Curry
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Harrison Barnes
- PF: Draymond Green
- C: Andrew Bogut
Pick & Preview of Game 2 OKC Thunder vs Golden State Warriors
The Oklahoma City Thunder shocked the NBA world in game one of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, as they marched into the Oracle Arena and beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Now everyone is wondering if the Dubs will bounce back with an emphatic game two defense of their home turf, or if Kevin Durant and co. will return for an encore.
Return, they shall, but it’s anyone’s guess what will happen, after the Thunder quickly forgot a regrettable first half performance and owned the Warriors in the second half – specifically the fourth quarter.
Yet another OKC game was still marred in controversy thanks to a late non-called travel on Russell Westbrook, but the Thunder still sealed the deal and enter game two with a dangerous 1-0 series lead.
Is that small lead the beginnings of a crazy upset or an intense series, or will it be remembered as a feeble attempt at taking down the mighty Warriors as they coast to the Finals to defend their title? Game two brings us one step closer to finding out.
Golden State Warriors Team Preview
The Warriors seemed to coast through the 2015-16 NBA regular season, winning a record 73 games and taking down the league’s top contenders in the process. They even owned the Thunder in the season series, and for the first half of game one, looked every bit the better team in this matchup.
Stephen Curry went completely cold in the final stanza, however, and the Dubs just couldn’t execute in the fourth quarter to save their life. Part of that was OKC’s excellent switching on defense, and part of it was Golden State failing to adjust.
The good thing is the Warriors are used to teams giving them their best shot, and they’re also no stranger to adapting. They’ve taken on all comes throughout the year to post the league’s best ever record and even in the Finals last year, they had to adjust on the fly to beat the Cavs.
This series is no different, as the Warriors need to find a smoother way to get open looks and when those opportunities do present themselves, they need to convert.
The sad thing is Golden State didn’t play a complete game in their game one loss, but neither did the Thunder. If OKC shows up and plays even better the second time around, the Dubs will have to hope they bring just a little more.
Of course, perhaps it’s as simple as this: Golden State hasn’t lost back to back games all season and the playoffs would be a pretty terrible place to start doing so now.
|5/16/16||VS Thunder||Lost 108-102|
|5/11/16||VS Blazers||Win 125-121|
|5/9/16||at Blazers||Win 132-125 (OT)|
|5/7/16||at Blazers||Lost 120-108|
|5/3/16||VS Blazers||Win 110-99|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
The Thunder may have been under-estimated going into game one, as they always had the scoring and defensive potential to ruffle feathers, but it admittedly looked like they matched up far better with the Spurs than with a versatile and athletic Warriors band.
Maybe that is still the case and game one was a tease, but OKC played excellent defense in the second half and we’ve been witness to a determined, smug and almost angry Russell Westbrook.
As noted just a second ago, the Thunder went into the Oracle Arena and got a win despite playing pretty mediocre basketball on the offensive end. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both shot under 40% from the floor and even went cold late in the game before figuring things out again.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
The question for them will be if they can come out and play like they did in the fourth quarter, but do so from start to finish. In addition, Oklahoma City’s defensive intensity cannot waver. It really didn’t show up until the second half, and had it been prevalent for the entire game, their win could have been much more convincing.
The Thunder already stole the home court edge. If they lose tonight, they can still keep a hold on this series by winning at home in games three and/or four. But if they really want to prove they’re a threat, they’ll put the defending champs up against the ropes and in a 2-0 hole. They’ve shown they have the ability to do that, now they just need to do it for an entire game.
|5/16/16||at Warriors||Win 108-102|
|5/12/16||VS Spurs||Win 113-99|
|5/10/16||at Spurs||Win 95-91|
|5/8/16||VS Spurs||Win 111-97|
|5/6/16||VS Spurs||Lost 100-96|
Thunder at Warriors Game 2 Preview
One key to this series may end up being whether or not Stephen Curry can play some defense. Klay Thompson and others keep having to rotate to help or double on Westbrook, and while that should save Curry from taking on the monster at the point, he at least will need to find a way to keep Dion Waiters, Randy Foye and Andre Roberson from hurting his team.
|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 other issue lies with the Warriors figuring out Oklahoma City’s defense. They play in a very specific way with switching that tends to offset screens and cuts into Golden State’s athletic edge. Of course, that puts a massive onus on big guys like Enes Kanter, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams consistently containing the likes of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, not to mention athletic forwards in Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes.
The Dubs almost got past this strategy with Iggy, Green and Thompson all blowing past their defenders late, but two times they got blocked en route to an easy layup and the third Iggy’s clear foul was called on the floor (yet another sign of the shaky reffing). OKC turned it up in those moments and it led to a big road win, but going forward, Golden State needs to find a way to keep the upper hand in those situations.
OKC’s switching defense is likely going to make or break them, and on paper, the Warriors absolutely have the talent to make them pay for trying it.
|Win/Loss||73-9 (39-2 at home)||55-27 (23-18 away)|
Recommended Game 2 Bet
It’s gut check time for the Warriors, who have seemed untouchable all year but are suddenly facing some adversity that, quite frankly, they’re not used to. Some experts already think this is now OKC’s series to lose, but it’s fair to say the Warriors may have been caught a little off guard or weren’t as battle tested and prepared after running through two very easy series.
The Thunder had a good defensive strategy and it ended up barely working out, as their offense wasn’t great throughout the game either. One call here or a converted layup there, and the Dubs still win game one. That being said, their backs are absolutely against the wall here, and they can’t be realistic about winning this series if they find themselves down, 2-0. The good news is they have lost at home just three times all year and have lost back to back games zero times. They have a virtually unstoppable offense and they are probably the best team in the league at correcting their mistakes and adapting to the opposition.
I expect OKC to give them another hard go and maybe even keep this game into question late, but we have the Dubs getting back to the Finals and that’s not likely to happen if they lost on Wednesday night. Look for the Dubs to stop the bleeding with a home win to notch it up at 1-1, but take the points for OKC.
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