Tip-Off: 9:30 PM CST
Location: Oracle Arena (Oakland, CA)
Television: ESPN, FSOK
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
F Kevin Durant is the best player on this Golden State squad, whether Thunder fans like to admit it or not. In his first season with the Warriors, Durant is averaging 25.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. He is shooting a career-high 53.7% from the field, and he is averaging a career-low 2.3 turnovers per game. Because of the Warriors’ ability to spread the floor, Durant is able to do a lot more with his offensive game without the ball in his hands. While Durant is the primary Warrior to keep an eye on, Golden State is packed full of talent, and the Thunder will need to be ready to play team defense.
Keys to the Game
- Control the Game: When the Thunder is able to control the tempo of the game and get out and run in transition, they put themselves in a good position to win. Oklahoma City is one of the top teams in the league when it comes to fast break points, averaging 17.6 per game (3rd in the NBA), but Golden State is the best in the league by far averaging 22.4 fast break points. Aside from the tempo of the game, the Thunder also needs to keep their emotions in check. These two teams have a lot of bad blood for a number of different reasons, and Oklahoma City cannot afford to let emotions get in the way of playing their best basketball.
- Take Over the Paint: Oklahoma City thrives at scoring down low, but Golden State also does a pretty good job. The Thunder are currently 2nd in the NBA averaging 50.2 points in the paint, while the Warriors are 4th averaging 47.2. Steven Adams will once again miss the game due to a concussion, so the Thunder will be forced to play small ball some. Despite missing one of the top centers in the league, Oklahoma City has to find a way to stay true to their offense and score inside. At the same time, the Thunder will need to stop the Warriors from getting easy points close to the basket.
- Protect the Perimeter: Golden State is known for its ability to knock down threes, and simply put, if Oklahoma City cannot defend the arc, they will not win the game. So far this season, the Warriors are 28-0 when they make at least 34% of their threes, and they are 7-6 if they shoot 33.3% or worse. While stopping Golden State from hitting shots from deep is not the only answer to beating the Warriors, it would put the Thunder in a great position to win the game.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.