Warriors (25-15, 13-10 road) vs. Thunder (29-10, 16-3 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.3 (8th), Warriors – 106.1 (13th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 100.9 (3rd), Warriors – 101.3 (4th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.2 (6th), Warriors – 96.9 (4th)
Everyone taken their heart medication for tonight’s game? Because if recent history tells us anything, saddle up. One of the major players in both of those game’s drama is of course missing, but still, when the Thunder and Warriors play, it’s explosive offense and exciting basketball. Perfect for a Friday night in Oklahoma.
The Thunder are in a good spot, and a tough one. On one hand, they’re on the second night of a back-to-back after playing a physical grind-out game against the Rockets. On the other, it’s the best they’ve played without Westbrook and might have a little positive momentum building.
They’re now 6-5 without their point guard and tonight’s game could go a little ways in shaping how we’re supposed to feel. A win and they’re 7-5, and turning the corner with another winnable home game ahead. Lose, and it’s back to .500 and Sunday’s game is now must-win-ish.
The Warriors have been inconsistent, and they’re likely stinging from their home loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday. They can be very good, and very tough to score on. If the Thunder are going to make it back-to-back wins, they’re going to have to play well. Better than they did last night, which is a lot to ask.
Three Big Things
1. 3-point line. Can the Thunder translate that kind of second half defensive effort to an entire 48 minutes against the Warriors tonight?
2. Serge Ibaka. He played an absolutely monster game against the Rockets, and he’ll need to dominate again tonight both on the boards and in protecting the rim. The Thunder are best served playing small, so if Ibaka can handle the load as the lone big, it’ll provide Scott Brooks the lineups he’d probably prefer to play for the bulk of the game.
3. Bench work. The Thunder’s second unit needs to show tonight. Against the Rockets, it had 15 total points and while Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams and Nick Collison made solid contributions, they didn’t produce points. A lot of this falls on Lamb, who really needs to chip in 10-15 points to pace the bench group. The Warriors are going to score, and they’ve got a solid second unit. OKC needs to keep up.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go D.