Golden State Warriors (8-11, 3-7 road) vs. OKC Thunder (13-7, 6-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.3 (11th), Warriors – 106.1 (17th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.6 (19th), Warriors – 111.4 (28th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.8 (15th), Warriors – 95.6 (4th)
View from the enemy: Warriors World
Coming home for a short little one game against the Warriors before the Thunder continues on with three straight on the road. In other words, they need to win tonight.
With some rest after the two games on the road in New Jersey and Toronto, OKC is back at the Can-We-Finally-Get-A-Name Arena. Kevin Durant is likely to play though as of posting this, that’s not official. The Warriors started the season off well but have sputtered without David Lee. But now Lee is back in the lineup and with the offensive weapons Golden State has, they’re a dangerous team.
Golden State coming in: The Warriors have dropped seven of eight after starting the season 7-4. Though the one win in that stretch was on the road (at Minnesota). They last played in Phoenix on Thursday.
Assuming KD plays, OKC should be able to match every bit of offense the Warriors have. In the past, KD has torched Golden State, but Dorell Wright is a long defender and has the ability to check KD a bit more than other Warriors in the past. Plus Wright has become a pretty deadly outside shooter this season.
Monta Ellis and Russell Westbrook will probably guard each other, but Thabo Sefolosha will switch between Ellis and Stephen Curry. The Warrior backcourt is small, but extremely talented and speedy. Most of Golden State’s offense hinges on Curry and Ellis so the Thunder has to like they have two quality defenders guarding the Warriors main options.
What’s made a difference for GSW this year is the addition of David Lee next to Andris Biedrins. Both are above average rebounders and Lee is a pretty dynamic offensive power forward that can score in or out. So depending on if KD plays, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic will have their hands full both defensively and on the glass. I like Serge Ibaka matching up on Lee, so there’s potential for Ibaka to see more minutes. Plus, a scrappy guy like Nick Collison could be valuable in getting in and banging with the Warriors big bodies.
Bench play will be key for both teams and really, this is about getting stops for the Thunder. If OKC allows the open looks like it did in Toronto, it’ll be a long night at home. But play some defense, work the glass well and run smart offense and the Thunder should be able to protect their home court. Nothing is a given, but the team should sense the importance of this game before they head out on a road trip.
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go Oklahoma City Up.
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