- PG: Stephen Curry
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Harrison Barnes
- PF: Draymond Green
- C: Andrew Bogut
Game 6 Pick & Preview Golden State Warriors vs OKC Thunder
Stephen Curry poured in 30+ points for the second time this post-season in game five, as the Golden State Warriors looked much more like themselves at home and found a way to stay alive in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t make it three straight wins in a row and gave life to a team that won 73 games during the regular season. And for at least one night, Golden State figured out the OKC defense and didn’t seem at all rattled like they had been for the previous two games.
Now the Dubs will have to prove their mini comeback can stand through the remainder of this series, by marching into OKC and getting a road win that has eluded them during this series. If Curry and co. can once again be on top of their game, their reward will be a game seven back at home.
The pressure has shifted to the Thunder, who got huge performances out of Kevin Durant (40 points) and Russell Westbrook (31 points) but didn’t get the job done defensively in game five, allowing the Warriors to shoot 47% from the floor. If OKC’s star duo can bring it again and the Thunder’s defense can tighten up, they can hold firm at home and punch their ticket to the 2016 NBA Finals, where the Cleveland Cavaliers await.
Golden State Warriors Team Preview
The big question is if game five’s strong home performance was a case of “too little, too late” or if a team that lost nine times during the regular season is the perfect team to storm back from a 3-1 hole. Golden State certainly looked more like themselves at home and only need to withstand one more tough road game at Chesapeake Energy Arena to earn another home game and a shot to get back to the Finals for the second year in a row.
Whether or not they can do it hinges on their top players having another strong performance, as everyone was big last game, from Draymond Green finally displaying his usual two-way energy, Klay Thompson catching fire and Curry dictating the tempo as needed.
The biggest key of all for the Dubs was the spark provided by center Andrew Bogut, however, as well as the wise choice by head coach Steve Kerr to abandon the small ball “death lineup” approach. That strategy simply did not work as planned in OKC the first two times, and giving the bigger, stronger Bogut a more enhanced role seemed to improve his confidence and also allow the Warriors to hang with OKC in the rebounding department.
In the previous four games, the team with the most rebounds won the game, and in game five the Dubs and Thunder tied with 45 boards. The wash went to the home team, as Golden State got 11+ points from five different players and put together a true team effort to keep their season on life support. If they can do all of that again on the road in game six, they’ll be doing a lot more than merely surviving to fight another day – they’ll have OKC on the brink of elimination.
|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|
|5/16/16||VS Thunder||Lost 108-102|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
Oklahoma City couldn’t finish off the Warriors in five games, but they came fairly close, putting together a nice run right away in the third quarter and remaining within striking distance for much of the final quarter.
The Warriors leaned hard on their home crowd, however, and OKC will have to wait for a game six in front of their home crowd to finish the job. That can’t be a bad set-up to envision if you’re the Thunder, as they know they have the defending champs against the ropes, have already beaten them at the Oracle Arena and almost ousted them in their last game.
The mental edge may slowly be leaving the Thunder, but they remained as hot as ever offensively in game five, with their star duo of KD and Westbrook combining for 71 points and the team connecting on a whopping 13 three-pointers. The offense was there yet again, but OKC’s defense could not contain Curry or Klay Thompson.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
The glaring issue was how the Thunder lost the inside game, however, as their block party shrunk down to just two blocks, compared to Golden State’s seven swats. In addition, Steven Adams lost out to Andrew Bogut in a battle of bigs and OKC simply did not respond well to the Warriors playing them straight up. That shifted the size advantage the Thunder previously held and it’s on OKC on Saturday night to prove that won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back after a huge 3-1 series lead.
OKC still controls their own destiny no matter what, though, and after seeing LeBron James and the Cavaliers move on to the Finals on Friday night, there’s little doubt OKC will be hard-pressed to finish the Dubs off on their home floor.
|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|
|5/16/16||at Warriors||Win 108-102|
Thunder at Warriors Game 6 Preview
One of the smartest things the Warriors could have done was ditch their small ball lineup and give more responsibility to Andrew Bogut. It could have backfired and it may not be the answer to winning two more games, but it was the right move, as it gave Steven Adams a big body to deal with for 30+ minutes on the floor and also freed up Draymond Green to do as he pleased at his better suited power forward position.
It got the Dubs back to doing what they do best and Bogut’s rebounding, shot-blocking and passing helped open things up offensively, as well as defensively. If the Warriors stick with that lineup, they’ll continue to have a chance to battle OKC straight up and force a home game in game seven.
|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|
Game five is what this series was supposed to be in the first place, after all. These are two elite offensive teams that can attack the rim or kill you from outside, while both teams have shown the ability to put the clamps down defensively, as well.
If the Dubs are going to steal game six, they’ll need to keep running and make sure the pace doesn’t slow down, while also finding a way to stifle one of OKC’s premier scorers. Kevin Durant has a history of coming up small in big spots, so the Warriors could look to take advantage of that. They’ll need every extra piece of leverage they can get to stave off a ferocious Thunder team that knows a game seven could very well be a death sentence.
|Win/Loss||73-9 (34-7 away)||55-27 (32-9 at home)|
Recommended Game 6 Bet
Odds and logic do not support a crazy three-game running of the tables by the Warriors. They gave a valiant effort in game five and staved off elimination in front of their home crowd, just as they should have. But OKC is extremely tough on their own turf and the Warriors have not found it easy even to just compete here recently.
The weird thing is, if the Dubs do find a way to win this game, I can’t see them falling short back at Oracle Arena in game seven. It’s all about getting there, though, and the Thunder have been a real problem for the defending champs all series long. Going down 3-1 is just too big of a hole to expect even the Dubs to climb out of, so until they pull off the impossible, we need to trust what makes the most sense: OKC closing this thing up at home and earning a trip to the Finals.
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