Thunder (13-42, 3-23 road) vs. Golden State Warriors (19-36, 14-13 home)
TV: KSBI-52 (Cox 9)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Time: 9:30 CST
Offensive Rating: Thunder: 103.5 (27th), Golden State: 109.0 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 109.9 (23rd), Golden State: 112.6 (28th)
Pace: Thunder: 93.8 (7th), Golden State: 97.6 (1st)
Finally! Our last game against the Warriors. I think this is maybe game 15 or 16 against them. I lost track.
Last night’s game was a pretty good warmup for tonight’s. Just like the Suns, the Warriors get up and down the floor. The Thunder went into Oracle Arena and snaked a one-point win last time they were there on a Jeff Green buzzer-beater, but in that game the Warriors scored a lot early, but the Thunder locked down when it mattered and got some huge stops. And ironically, that’s the last road win this team has had. But this Warriors team is playing pretty good basketball right now, having won four of five at home, all against pretty good teams (Portland, Utah, Phoenix, New York).
One thing about trying to run with a team that specializes in it: OKC plays faster than a lot of teams but the Thunder try to do it in a “controlled” running style. Get up the floor, look for something and then pull out and run a set. There’s not a lot of long outlet passes resulting in layups. That’s what Phoenix tries to do. And in the mean time, they speed you up and get you taking quicker-than-usual shots. And what that up-tempo style does is it gives bad shooter more open shots. For instance, Earl Watson was left wide open five or six times and he stood there and finally heaved a “Well, I guess I have to take this” shot. The difference is that the Suns are built to have good shooters all over the floor so when they find those open looks, they hit them. But when OKC gets them, its got two or three guys on the entire team that can hit it semi-consistently. I don’t know if that entirely makes sense, but me and my buddy Andy were talking about it as we watched the game last night and it made sense to us. It wasn’t that the Suns played that great of defense, but it was that their hectic pace encouraged open looks for bad Thunder shooters – to which they took them and to which they missed them.
And that’s what we’re going to see a bit more of tonight. Golden State doesn’t run the exact same fast break offense that Phoenix does, but they do encourage fast pace. The Warriors don’t outlet and look for run-outs, but more pass once and shoot. Their philosophy is the more shots you take, the more chance you have to make. And OKC has to be careful to not get into that hectic pace. One tell-tale sign that the Thunder is, is if Earl the Dandy takes an open three with more than 12 on the 24. That’s when Scott Brooks needs to call timeout and get OKC under control.
It might be tough for OKC to come out with a lot of energy because while last night wasn’t the 48 minute grueler the game in Los Angeles was, it was basically two hours of suicides. It might be tough to get their legs back after last night’s track meet, just for another track meet today. But the Warriors are an inconsistent team and are beatable. Maybe the best news is that Stephen Jackson will be playing. In OKC one loss against GSW this year, Jackson didn’t play, but he played in the Thunder’s two wins.
Tip at 9:30 our time. Watch OU beat Texas and maybe flip over to the Thunder game here and there. Go Sooners – I mean, Thunder.