Oklahoma City Thunder (8-34, 2-17 road) vs. Golden State Warriors (13-29, 9-9 home)
Wednesday, Jan. 22
9:30 PM CST
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Offensive Rating: Thunder: 101.1 (29th), Golden State: 108.2 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 108.5 (19th), Golden State: 113.2 (29th)
Pace: Thunder: 93.8(6th), Golden State: 97.5 (1st)
So what is this, like the 14th time we’ve played the Warriors? Because holy crap, it sure feels like it. This is game one of a two-game West Coast road trip. This is OKC’s first trip to the left side of America, but is the third time the Thunder has played the Warriors. I guess that’s not so bad. The first matchup, Golden State beat OKC 112-102 but the Thunder got revenge with a 107-100 win on New Year’s Eve. Since Ron Adams joined the bench that night, OKC’s been the best team in the league. Well, maybe not, but it kind of seems like it compared to the first two months.
After winning two out of three during last week’s homestand, OKC is now 5-5 in its last 10. The Warriors have won two in a row and three of four. What does that mean? It’s a nice way to say these two teams have horrendous records but have been playing better lately.
Here’s the interesting part about tonight: In OKC’s seven-point win, the Thunder out-rebounded GSW 45-35 and had a +5 advantage on the offensive glass. And that’s exactly what OKC is doing best right now. Lately, the Thunder’s hitting the glass like a fly on a windowsill. (That was weak. I apologize.) And the Warriors are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, giving up almost 48 boards a game. That’s where OKC has to focus and take advantage of tonight.
Kevin Durant has stayed awesome recently, averaging 27.5 over his last six. In the last meeting, Durant and Jeff Green combined for 51 and 18. The Warriors really don’t match OKC that well, because other than Andris Biedrins, nobody really crashes the boards all that much. Durant will be able to get his shot any time he wants it over the shorter Corey Maggette and Green should be able to muscle up Brandon Wright. The question is whether or not Russell Westbrook can slow down Jamal Crawford and keep pace with him offensively.
Expectations are of course low, due to the fact OKC has just won twice in 17 tries on the road, but then again, Golden State isn’t all that wonderful. This is the best basketball the Thunder has played this year and the mentality of losing is beginning to fade. Last time these two played for some completely unfounded reason, I had a sneaking suspicion the Thunder would win. Tonight? I’m thinking win mainly because of wishful thinking because I’m ready to put No. 9 behind us. But in reality, a split on this West Coast trip would be wonderful. Especially because that would mean Oklahoma City would be coming home with nine wins. Can you tell that I want to just go ahead and get over that hump instead of dragging it out for two weeks and then having to start worrying about not winning another game the rest of the season? Yeah, I don’t want that. Nine. NINE!!!