- PG: Stephen Curry
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Harrison Barnes
- PF: Draymond Green
- C: Andrew Bogut
Pick & Preview of Game 4 Golden State Warriors vs OKC Thunder
Over reaction has been the name of the game so far when it comes to the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Golden State Warriors looked done after a game one collapse, looked reborn after a game two blowout win and suddenly after a game three demolition by the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, no longer resemble a 73-9 defending champion.
It may be time to pump the brakes, at least until the final horn sounds off at the end of game four. Golden State undoubtedly has their backs against the wall as they go into what could be a make or break game in OKC, but many experts agree: if anyone could come back from a 3-1 hole, it’s these Warriors.
It’s true that Stephen Curry and co. have twice wilted in the face of an impressive Thunder defense, while Draymond Green actually lost his composure in a game three where he really didn’t deliver in any regard. Then again, none of the Warriors did. Oklahoma City rebounded from a terrible game three and got both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to drop in 30+ points. When that happens, most teams don’t lose. That’s certainly normally the case for a team as good as the Thunder.
While OKC has been a challenge, few expected this series to be a cakewalk after the Thunder disposed of the Spurs in just six games. It’s possible they’re on their way to shocking the world and doing something similar again here, but it’s also possible they just happen to have a leg up against a very good team that hasn’t yet touched their best ball during this series.
Golden State is built on versatility and an uncanny ability to adjust and overcome. They did it numerous times over the course of the 2015-16 NBA regular season and just last year they did it when down 2-1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. On Tuesday night we get to find out if they’re ready to do it again.
Golden State Warriors Team Preview
The Warriors really weren’t that bad in game one, as they stormed out to a 13-point lead and simply took their foot off the gas. Despite their self imposed defeat in that game, OKC seems to be getting all the credit when the Dubs could fairly easily be up 2-1 at the moment.
We saw the Warriors play terrific basketball in game two, when they eliminated an early deficit and again held a lead at the half, and then used a fantastic third quarter with vintage Stephen Curry scoring to propel them to a much-needed win to get the series to 1-1.
In a lot of ways, Golden State knew they were still in a good spot and simply needed to keep making the right adjustments to OKC’s switch defense. Unfortunately, they didn’t even show up in OKC in game three, and were quickly out of the game before the break even hit.
That was not a Warriors-type game, and after blowing game one, they’ve now delivered two uncharacteristic losses. A lot of that certainly plays into the Thunder’s two elite scorers and better than advertised defense, but more than anything, game three was an anomaly and game one is just one the Dubs probably wish they could have back.
Going into game four, Golden State should be just as cool and calm as they were in game two, when they responded by trouncing the Thunder. The key difference is game ouf is in OKC, but the Warriors seems to play more spirited basketball when they have their backs against the wall. They’ve also found a way to avoid losing back to back games all year, so if they can simply execute and actually hit open jumpers (which oddly has been a problem for them twice now), they should have a great chance at tying the series up at 2-2.
|5/22/16||at Thunder||Lost 133-105|
|5/18/16||VS Thunder||Win 118-91|
|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)|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
The Oklahoma City Thunder are certainly in a good spot as they prepare for game four, as they lead the defending champions two games to one and with a strong effort could exit the night with a commanding 3-1 series lead.
The Thunder have found much of their success offensively via their top two scorers, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but a lot of their momentum has stemmed from stellar defense, largely due to their athletic bigs being able to contest outside jumpers and keep the Warriors from executing once they get past them on the dribble.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
The Warriors were able to deny this defense in the first half of game one and for much of game two, but in the second half of game one and for all of game three, Oklahoma City’s defense was very much on display. In game three specifically, the Thunder responded to Golden State’s small ball “death lineup” by using Serge Ibaka more and wound up running with the seemingly unbeatable lineup. In fact, they dominated that lineup the entire time it was on the floor.
That could be a blip on the radar, or it could force Steve Kerr and co. to adjust things. If OKC’s strategy forces the Dubs to rethink their own lineups and processing, they’re already way ahead in this series.
|5/22/16||VS Warriors||Win 133-105|
|5/18/16||at Warriors||Lost 118-91|
|5/16/16||at Warriors||Win 108-102|
|5/12/16||VS Spurs||Win 113-99|
|5/10/16||at Spurs||Win 95-91|
Thunder at Warriors Game 4 Preview
It’s easy to count the Warriors out at this point, and it will be much easier if they lose tonight. However, they’re in a sense right where they should be, especially if they can get a tough road win and even the series at 2-2.
|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|
OKC winning at the Oracle Arena in game one was a surprise, but it wasn’t totally unprecedented or impossible to overcome. The key is the Warriors need to find a way to win one road game in this series and then avoid losing again at home. For a team that went 73-9 on the year, lost two home games all season and was clearly quite good on the road, as well, that all sounds fairly doable.
|Win/Loss||73-9 (34-7 away)||55-27 (32-9 at home)|
The more startling revelation is we have only seen one complete game out of the Warriors thus far, which tells us OKC really hasn’t seen their strongest game. It’s tough to envision that coming on the road in a hostile environment, but the Warriors know a loss tonight could mean the end of a historic run. They may have to dig deep, but if they can get back to the basics and defend and execute like they did in game two, they should have a good shot at pulling it off and setting themselves up for a huge game five at home.
Recommended Game 4 Bet
There is not much wiggle room here, as Vegas points to the Dubs as the ever so mild favorites, but clearly doesn’t have a ton of faith in them on the road against a Thunder team playing at an extremely high level.
Of course, we did just see the Warriors dismantle OKC in game two and had it not been for a mini-collapse by the Dubs at home in game one, this series could have a very different tone to it.
The tone at the moment is favoring the Thunder, but should it? OKC is at home and has certainly looked like a threat, but if both of these teams are playing their best ball, it’s still tough to bet against the Warriors. This is also a 73-9 team we’re talking about, that happened to never lose back to back games on the year. Golden State doesn’t want to be down 3-1 and they know if they play their game, they can beat the Thunder. We can probably expect a tight game, but the Warriors should show up this time and deliver a complete game in a win.
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