- PG: Stephen Curry
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Harrison Barnes
- PF: Draymond Green
- C: Andrew Bogut
Pick & Preview of Game 5 OKC Thunder vs Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors enter game five of the 2016 Western Conference Finals with their backs supremely against the wall. The Oklahoma City Thunder out-played them for the second game in a row, blowing them out and taking a commanding 3-1 series lead in the process.
Just like that, everything the defending champs have done to this point no longer matters. Stephen Curry’s second straight MVP is dinged up hardware. Last year’s title seems so long ago. And that amazing 73-win record is dangerously close to looking like a hollow number.
The Warriors we’re used to seeing have shown up for arguably just three quarters in this entire series, allowing OKC’s star power, length and defensive energy to get the best of them. Curry hasn’t been focused or efficient. When he’s not turning the ball over, he’s missing shots he normally makes or he’s giving up easy buckets to Russell Westbrook. That may not be a death blow if Draymond Green wasn’t missing everything and operating as a shell of himself on the defensive end.
Throw in an out-muscled Andrew Bogut and a lifeless supporting cast, and these Warriors don’t look like a 73-win juggernaut destined to win a second straight title. They look tired and about ready to mail it in.
Draymond Green called his team’s fall from grace “stunning”. If the Dubs are going to stop the bleeding, they’ll need to flip the script and have the media pining at them and calling their performance stunning for totally different reasons. The good news is history like a 3-1 series comeback has happened before. It happened just last year and this could very well be the 10th time in history. Logic doesn’t support it, but if any team is built to fire back and win three straight games, it just might be these Warriors.
They haven’t yet shown any signs of being able to change gears in this series, however. They’ll get a chance to do that when the action commences at the Oracle Arena on Thursday night.
Golden State Warriors Team Preview
There are a lot of running excuses for why the Warriors are in this odd position. They branch out pretty well, too. Stephen Curry isn’t 100%, the Thunder are simply better, OKC is too long, Luke Walton’s pending departure is a distraction, Draymond Green has become a villain in the worst way, the team is tired after the chase for 73 wins, they had too easy of a path to get to this point and the least goes on.
It really doesn’t matter. Regardless of why the Warriors are down 3-1, all they really need to worry about is how they can win three straight games. OKC has found a way to win three of the first four in this series, so it’s not completely out of left field to think Golden State can turn around and do something similar.
For the first half in game one and for the third quarter in game two, the Warriors were very close to being the Warriors. They were hot from outside, they were sharing the ball, they were playing smothering defense and they looked like they were having fun.
Then OKC got in their face, got aggressive on offense and wouldn’t allow easy baskets. Even when the Dubs did execute on Oklahoma City’s switch defense, they’d be a step slow to the basket, get blocked or miss a contested jumper. Wherever the Warriors went, there was a Thunder player waiting for them.
In other words, Golden State has been reacting to OKC’s reaction all series long, instead of constantly playing it the other way. Golden State thrives off of organized chaos. They run the floor as good as anyone, they live off of their opponent’s turnovers and they disorient you with as many passes as it takes to get to the perfect shot.
They haven’t been able to do that a whole lot in this series, partially because the last two games were on the road, and partially because it feels an awful lot like they don’t trust that they can. It’s possible OKC is just peaking at the right time and that their fatal defensive flaws are gone for good, but it’s tough to see such a well oiled offensive machine like the Warriors look painfully average for three out of four games.
If they’re going to have a chance to move on and keep this series afloat, the snake will need to find a rock and shed it’s skin. OKC has dominated this series. Now it’s Golden State’s turn, or it’s lights out.
|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|
|5/11/16||VS Blazers||Win 125-121|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
The Thunder have gone about pulling off an extremely unlikely upset by the book. They took game one, licked their wounds after game two and then went home and defend their turf.
That is the method in it’s simplest form, but on a more specific level, the Thunder have simply bested the Warriors at their own game. When Golden State moves to their small ball “death lineup”, Oklahoma City’s has been better. Russell Westbrook has flat out dominated Stephen Curry on both ends for half of this series, while Kevin Durant has picked his spots wisely and for the most part held up his end up the duo bargain.
OKC’s supporting cast hasn’t shrunk in the limelight, either. Steven Adams has withstood multiple crotch kicks to fend off easy buckets and discourage the Dubs from racing to the rim. He’s paved the way for the Thunder to dominate the glass – a stat that isn’t so hollow when you see the team to win in the rebounding department has won each time in this series.
Then there is the case of Andre Roberson, who was supposed to be a defensive specialist and nothing more. Golden State disrespected him so much that he’s dropped in 15 points per game in the past two contests and made them look silly for leaving him wide open. Easy makes have only backed up his already intense defense, and he’s also been a facilitator and an extra helping hand on the boards.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
The Golden State Warriors were the consummate team, racing to an NBA-record 73 wins this year, but in the biggest playoff series of the year, they’re folding against a team that is pulling off their own strategy better. And so far, it’s been better by a mile. The big question is if OKC can keep it going so much in game five to finish the Dubs off for good.
|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|
|5/12/16||VS Spurs||Win 113-99|
Thunder at Warriors Game 5 Preview
Game five at Oracle Arena could be insane for a variety of reasons. We could see Curry and co. fight back and crush OKC, laying out an emphatic foundation to force a game six and create a seed of doubt in the Thunder’s mind. We could see a tight battle that isn’t decided until the final play. Or we could see OKC step on Golden State’s throat and end this thing by blowing them out for the third straight time.
|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 way this series has gone, it’s anyone’s guess tonight. However, the Warriors are the defending champions, they have what could still be the league’s most dynamic player and a supporting cast that certainly won’t take too kindly to losing a third straight game – not to mention allowing it to happen at home.
Logic may not tell us the Dubs survive this, but it also doesn’t tell us they can’t at least prolong the inevitable. After all, game four was the first time all year the Warriors lost back to back games. Going into game five, they know their backs aren’t just against the wall – they’re fighting for the right to remain in these playoffs – for the right to defend their title.
This is what this entire regular season rampage was about, after all. A league wide lack of respect. Coaches, players, fans and media talking heads suggested numerous times during the offseason that Golden State was a fluke, that they got lucky.
The Dubs responded with a league record 73 wins.
|Win/Loss||73-9 (39-2 at home)||55-27 (23-18 away)|
Now everyone is saying they’re toast, that OKC is the better team and that the Warriors can’t come back from 1 3-1 hole. Curry isn’t the MVP we thought he was, Draymond Green is choking and the rest of the Warriors are tired and lack focus.
Recommended Game 5 Bet
If the Warriors win tonight in game five, it won’t be by luck. They’ll win handedly and they will march into game six knowing all they need to do is finally steal a road win in this series and then they can leave it all on the floor one last time back home in game seven.
The pressure is on the Dubs, but they seem to thrive on it and almost crave it. It’s possible OKC could drop a bomb on the NBA world for a third straight game, but it would defy logic. The Warriors have to be better than that. They’re at home, where they never lose, and as ugly as this hole looks, they’ve at least put themselves in a position where they get two of the next three games on their home floor. They just need to make sure they get to play the second one.
It starts with a big performance in front of their home crowd on Thursday night. Even if the Dubs are done, you have to think they’ll at least give their fans that one more time.
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