Warriors (55-14, 26-10 road) vs. Thunder (40-29, 26-9 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.2 (15th), Warriors – 112.9 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 105.2 (10th), Warriors – 101.3 (2nd)
I’m about sick and tired of the Kevin Durant drama. I think all of the Oklahoma City Thunder fandom let their feelings be known on February 11th. And that’s all we needed. Most people I’ve spoken with are through with the dramatics and weren’t going to repeat the shenanigans of that evening. There were going to be less cupcakes and, probably, less booing. It’s tiring to constantly dislike/hate someone like that.
But while most of Thunder nation seems ready to move on, the Golden State Warriors seem hellbent on keeping this “rivalry” front page news. First it was Stephen Curry with the “who would you vote for for MVP” comment. While he is definitely entitled to his opinion, he’s also media-savvy enough to know that his answer would reverberate in the blogosphere. Then Tony Durant decided to pop off on Twitter, and got all “Hit ‘Em Up’ed” by Nina Westbrook, to the point where he did the Twitter equivalent of running back home with his tail tucked between his legs, eventually deleting his tweets and his account. Apparently, the apples don’t fall too far from the tree. And now ESPN’s Chris B. Haynes comes out with an article about how people within the Warriors organization are disappointed in the Thunder organization for not presenting Durant with a praise and worship ceremony during their February 11th meeting.
Really? For what? If the relationship was between Durant and the Thunder to begin with, then the Warriors were the mistress. And in this instance, Durant went off and got married to the mistress. So the Thunder, who in this example would play the role of the jilted ex-spouse, are supposed to roll out the red carpet and give Durant a thank you video? Man, get the fracking crews out here. The wounds are still fresh. Not as fresh as they were on February 11th, but still fresh enough to where forgetting is not yet an option. That day will come, but it won’t be tonight. And it may not happen for the next be next five years or ten years. But wounds have a way of healing over, and eventually, Oklahoma City will thank Durant for what he did for the city and for the state in his time here. But it will happen on OKC’s terms, not someone else’s.
Season Series Summary
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Thunder and Warriors. The Warriors have swept the first three meetings, with the same scenario playing out in every game so far: the Thunder keep it close for much of the first half, and then the Warriors blow the doors off the game by winning the middle quarters by a wide margin.
Three Big Things
1. Perimeter Defense
Nothing gets the Warriors going like the 3-pointer. They feature five players (excluding Durant) that are shooting 35% or better from deep. Curry, Klay Thompson, and Ian Clark are all shooting 40% or better from deep. With Durant out, though, the Thunder may put Andre Roberson on Klay Thompson and put Victor Oladipo on Matt Barnes. The Thunder actually did a masterful job of defending the 3-point line against the Kings. While the level of competition between the Kings and Warriors is completely different, the defensive principles the Thunder exhibited should not change.
2. Middle Quarters (2nd/3rd quarters)
In their previous three meetings, the games have been lost for the Thunder in the middle quarters. If the Thunder have a good 2nd quarter, then they usually get outscored badly in the 3rd quarter. And when they have good 3rd quarters, it’s usually come at the behest of a horrible 2nd quarter. The Thunder have to play a full 48 minutes to beat the Warriors, but they have to mind the middle quarter to actually have a competitive chance in the 4th quarter. The Warriors have only outscored the Thunder by 4 points combined in each of the first quarters. But they’ve outscored the Thunder by 57 points combined in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. That needs to stop.
3. Zaza Pachulia
It will be interesting to see how the Thunder treat Pachulia in the game’s first few possessions. I don’t think Westbrook took too kindly to the lack of emotion shown by the Thunder when Pachulia leveled Westbrook back in their 2nd meeting. In year’s past, Kendrick Perkins would usually set the tone by setting a hard (illegal) pick on whoever the transgressor was on the Thunder’s first offensive possession. Let’s see if the old siverback taught Steven Adams that trick.