Thunder (5-2, 2-2 road) vs. Warriors (5-3, 3-0 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 103.8 (13th), Warriors– 104.8 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.8 (10th), Warriors – 99.6 (3rd)
Pace: Thunder – 97.6 (8th), Warriors – 99.2 (2nd)
This might be the toughest back-to-back the Thunder will have this season. To play against the relentless Clippers and then turn around to take on the high-powered, suffocating Warriors just 24 hours apart is like getting wasted on a Tuesday, then running a marathon while being hungover on Wednesday.
The Thunder played OK against the Clippers, all things considered, but the Warriors are a little less forgiving. They’ve evolved into a defensive powerhouse, sealing off the paint and pressuring the ball all over the floor. And to play as fast as the Warriors do and play defense as well as they do make them a legitimately terrifying opponent.
Obviously the Warriors can hit you in waves, and that’s what the Thunder have to prepare for. Over the past few seasons, the Thunder have been a really bad matchup for Golden State because they just couldn’t sustain guarding Westbrook and Durant for an entire game. They’ve addressed a lot of those problems and with a healthy Andrew Bogut in the middle, they can play a lot more aggressive on the perimeter.
A win would be an excellent bounce-back for OKC, but it’s certainly not expected. The game against the Clippers felt like the more winnable opportunity, but that ended up going south right before halftime. If the Thunder can keep everyone on the floor, they should be in it well into the fourth quarter and with Durant and Westbrook, sometimes that’s the only gameplan you need.
Golden State coming in: Beat the Pistons handily on Tuesday
Three Big Things
1. Oceanic showdown. It’s the Kiwi versus the Aussie. Steven Adams makes his second start after an inconsistent showing against the Clippers and life doesn’t get any easier. He goes from Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin in the pick-and-roll to Steph Curry, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. I do think Bogut would be an interesting future comparison for Adams as things go on. Bogut’s feel and intelligence have always been two of his biggest assets, and he’s a tremendous passer, but Adams might be a comparable player eventually.
2. Iggy. The big edge the Thunder have always had against the Warriors is that they had no one to guard KD. Now they have Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes, two guys to throw different looks. Plus, there’s Draymond Green who likes to get under people’s skin. So the Warriors are much better equipped to take on Durant than they’ve ever been and that’s always been OKC’s major advantage.
3. Bursts. The Warriors can explode at times, putting up lightning fast runs of eight or 10 or 12 points in a matter of seconds. Playing in front of that rabid home crowd, the Thunder have to limit those explosions, those moments where Curry catches fire and lights the arena up. You can’t stop all of them, but you can at least try and limit them.
Tip at 9:30 CT. Go Don’t Get Tossed.