|2012-2013 NBA Season|
|November 18th, 2012|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|6:00 PM CST|
|Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Net Bay Area, WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)|
|Enemy Blogs: Golden State Of Mind, WarriorsWorld|
|Previous Meetings: None|
|Stephen Curry||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Klay Thompson||SG||Thabo Sefolosha|
|Harrison Barnes||SF||Kevin Durant|
|David Lee||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Festus Ezeli||C||Kendrick Perkins|
Right now, the Golden State Warriors are 5-4, and look as powerful as any decent team in the West, with wins over the Clippers and Hawks. If the season ended today, the Warriors would make the playoffs for only the second time in the last 19 years.
Of course, the Warriors are only 9 games into the season, and anything can happen. They've already endured the loss of Brandon Rush, who suffered an ACL injury earlier this month. Andrew Bogut has hardly played, and the timetable for his return has been routinely extended as he battles with a knee injury. Stephen Curry's career rests on the hopes of his shaky ankles, and even David Lee has some injury concerns, having missed multiple games in the past two years.
The front office has been no less hectic. After years of ownership under a hands-off cheapskate of an owner in Chris Cohan, the team was bought by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who instituted widespread changes in the organization, including a new logo and a new coach. That new coach, Mark Jackson, came into the job having zero previous coaching experience on any level, and has been widely criticized for his uncreative offense and inconsistent rotations. Meanwhile, many of the old front office staff still remain from the Cohan era, including team president Robert Rowell.
To top it all off, the team announced they would be moving from Oakland to San Francisco in 2017, occupying a brand spanking new arena near the foot of the bay bridge. Some have criticized this move as well, declaring that the move will raise ticket prices and make the games unaffordable for the fans who made We Believe possible five years ago.
Welcome to the world of the Golden State Warriors. A world where hope and dread both spring eternal.
So, how did they get to 5-4? Well, they've seen the emergence of two players who are on the verge of having breakout years. Klay Thompson, a lottery pick from a year ago, has turned out to be a fantastic all-around player who's capable of hitting shots in the clutch. He can pretty much be described as the jack-of-all trades on offense. He's not going to wow you in any particular area, but he can drive the ball just as much as he can jack up a triple. Sometimes he turns into a bit of a chucker, but he has bursts of offense where he can really hurt the opponent.
The other surprise has been Carl Landry, who spent of most of his career languishing on bad teams. He's always been known as a solid scorer in the post who's excellent at positioning. But on the Warriors, he's really flourished being able to play next to true big men who help clear out the lane. His offensive rebounds have seen a strong uptick in particular, creating lots of opportunities for him.
Speaking of bigs, this team is no longer Don Nelson's Warriors. They don't run the floor. Their guards are still capable of doing it, but Mark Jackson rarely goes small, and the team is more notable for their defensive tenacity than it is for their big time scorers. They're the league's 4th best team at blocking shots, and don't allow many points in the paint. However, their biggest calling card is their rebounding. Lee and Landry make a great paint rebounding duo, and the Warriors don't allow a lot of second chance points. In general, they're just a really tall team, so rebounds can fall their way sometimes.
As far as negatives go, the team doesn't have a lot of passers, and, as such, is very turnover prone. Both Jarrett Jack and Stephen Curry are both scoring-minded point guards, and often will defer to wings and let them make their own plays. This can be a positive when things are clicking, but the offense can really grind to a halt when things go wrong, as evidenced by their loss to the Lakers, in which they only scored 77 points. Many attribute this deficiency to Mark Jackson.
Overall, this game should be a piece of cake for the Thunder, really. The Thunder are better at rebounding than the Warriors, and they're great at taking advantage of teams that turn the ball over. Furthermore, the Thunder have made a name for themselves at the three point line this year, and the Warriors' perimeter D can leave something to be desired. The only really big question I have is whether Russell Westbrook can break out of his shooting slump.
However, as all of you know, I've been a huge Warriors fan since the late 90s, so tonight I'll be at the Peake cheering for the other team and getting booed by Thunder fans everywhere.Yes, I'm a traitor, but given that I watch every single Thunder game, go to every home game, have given thousands of dollars to the team, and dedicate a good portion of my life to analyzing them, I'm willing to give myself a pass for a couple nights a year.
Go Warriors! Biedrins will hit a free throw tonight, mark it down!
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 112, Golden State Warriors 97