Golden State Warriors (6-13, 2-8 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (10-9, 5-5 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.6 (21st), Warriors – 107.5 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.5 (8th), Warriors – 111.8 (29th)
Pace: Thunder – 91.7 (19th), Warriors – 102.2 (1st)
View from the enemy: Warriors World
Another one of these. The “Slightly scary, but only because the Thunder is perfectly capable of dropping a stinker at any time, but at the same time, OKC should cruise to a victory” type of game. They terrify me. You win and it’s taking care of business. You lose and it feels like a disaster. I feel like I say this every time. But it’s true.
When you’re a team like Oklahoma City, you can’t afford to drop games like this at home. I had visions of a 4-1 homestand, but I’ll take 3-2 with losses against Houston and Boston. That means these guys beat everyone they should, played a good Rockets team tough and well, got obliterated by the Celtics. But a 2-3 home stay is bad. Bad news bears.
The Warriors are kind of your classic mediocre team. They’ve got some good players (Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow), some young, talented but inconsistent guys (Steph Curry, Anthony Randolph) and then the fillers (Radmonovich, Mikki Moore, C.J. Watson). They’re good offensively, but hardly try on the other end. They’ve lost three straight coming in and are 2-8 on the road. They are 2-9 against plus .500 teams and have mostly beat up on the bottom feeders, although they do have nice wins against Dallas and Portland.
Other than Monta Ellis, you’ve got to like this matchup all the way up and down for OKC. Golden State has no one to defend Kevin Durant (undersized Maggette? Old Devean George? Anthony Morrow?), Radmonovich doesn’t really match well with Jeff Green and the Thunder bench is much deeper. I like Nenad Krstic against Mikki Moore (Andris Biedrins has been out with a lower back strain and is questionable tonight) and I don’t know who Thabo will guard, but I like him locking down whoever that is.
The real X-Factor is Ellis. Westbrook is clearly quick enough to guard him, but Shaun Livingston is supposed to get extended minutes behind Russ tonight and I just don’t see Livingston slowing down Ellis. Ellis gets to the rim at ease and with no real Thunder shot blocker patrolling the paint, it could be an issue. This could be a night to shine for Serge Ibaka and his crashing help defense.
It’s about getting stops and making open shots tonight. The Warriors are going to score some. It just happens. But they also are going to give back a fair share. If you get a couple stops, it’s easy to go on a 14-2, 17-5 run against these guys in a hurry. But they can return the favor if you rush shots, miss good looks or get lazy defensively.
It’s your classic offense versus defense game. However, the Warriors stink on the road, don’t rebound well, are relatively undisciplined and sometimes just don’t show up. All signs point to a Thunder win. But that doesn’t mean it’ll happen. It’s just one game, but these are the games you win if you’re a team serious about contending for a spot in the West.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go Bad News Thunder.