Enemy Blog Perspective: Golden State of Mind
Yes! But no! But yes! Though I may be a Warriors fan at heart, it still hurts to see the Thunder lose. Especially in this fashion. They've hit rock bottom in terms of mistakes, defense, and overall gameplan. While being at the top of the Northwest Division isn't the bleakest thing in the world, the now-spoiled Oklahoma City fans hunger for more than Sunday night losses to the Warriors. Let's hit the recap.
The Thunder started off well in the first. They kept the lead for most of the quarter, and did an excellent job of getting to the line. The only problem is that when the Thunder weren't scoring, they were committing turnovers. From play to play they switched between a professional team making excellent plays to a bunch of guys on the And 1 Tour.
The second quarter was all James Harden. He scored the Thunder's first 8 points of the third quarter, and set Collison up for a nice basket. The Warriors were continuing to score, courtesy of the David Lee and Monta Ellis combo. The Warriors weren't shooting particularly well, but they were able to score due to great team rebounding. Towards the end of the quarter, the lane started clearing out, and there was a seesaw battle with lots of exciting baskets in transition and the paint. The Warriors had a solid run because of some awesome play from Curry and Ellis, with Ellis setting up Curry for a couple of nice jumpers and Ellis taking it to the hoop himself. The quarter ended on a clutch Monta Ellis teardrop shot at the buzzer to put the Warriors up by 4.
Below: The Second Half, Three Problems With the Thunder, Giving the Warriors Credit, Future Analysis, Awards!
The third quarter saw a shift in focus on the Warriors side of things. Stephen Curry took a more prominent role in their offense, and as a result, they had good ball movement and were able to keep their lead for most of the quarter. The Thunder actually did take the lead early on with a 12-6 run, but after a couple of missed shots, the team fell apart again, with turnovers abound and even a technical foul on Russell Westbrook.
The fourth quarter was the same old story for the Thunder. Another amazing run followed by another terrible offensive slump. The low end of their offensive slump came towards the end of the game, putting the Warriors in control. And with Stephen Curry playing like Steven Nash, the Warriors were near-unstoppable on offense. And thus, the Thunder dropped an easily winnable game.
What were the problems with this game from the Thunder perspective? I think a more appropriate question is, "Where do I start?" The one that sticks out the most is rebounding. In a game where both teams shoot extremely well, there's not a lot of rebounds to be had, but the Warriors took most of them, which made up for their inferior shooting percentage. It just shows how incredibly awesome it would be to have a David Lee/Zach Randolph/Kevin Love type on your team to help them out on bad nights.
There's also the issue of turnovers. There's no one issue to focus on here, because they came from all parts of the basketball spectrum. Offensive fouls? Check. Atrocious passes? Check. Drives to the basket that had absolutely no chance and resulted in the Warriors picking our pocket? Check. Great perimeter defense by the Warriors? Check.
The last thing that stuck out to me as a huge problem with this game is the over-reliance on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Everybody else on the team shot 50% or higher. Everybody. If everyone else was getting such great shots, then why did we have to let Westbrook make so many boneheaded plays and watch Kevin Durant clank so many threes? In all honesty, I'd rather see Harden, Maynor, Green, or Cook take a three at any time but the end of the game. Durant's inclusion in the three point contest has to be the most puzzling thing I've ever seen.
But, you have to give the Warriors credit for this win. However many times the guys on the Sports Animal may cry out that the team is the worst team they've seen since they last went to the Lloyd Noble Center, the fact remains that the Warriors can play with anybody in the NBA. Tonight, they weren't prefect, but they did what they're best at very well. They used their small size to force turnovers and get easy baskets in transition. They used the ultra rebounding combo of Biedrins and Lee to full effect, dominating the offensive glass and creating second chances. The effectively utilized the "odd couple" of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, by allowing Monta Ellis to take control of the game at times and go at the basket, while allowing Stephen Curry control of the game at other times, leading to better ball movement and opportunities for outside shots.
Moving forward, the Thunder drop to 34-19, which makes their Northwest Division lead drop to a mere four games. Nothing to be too concerned about yet, but something that could become a full on rash if not treated immediately. The Warriors improve to 24-29, which puts them a whopping 5.5 games out of the playoff picture. But with how well they've played lately, anything is possible. The Thunder see the Warriors again on March 29th. It could be a late season test for the Thunder, or it could be a game with playoff implications for both teams. I'd tend towards the latter option, but I wouldn't take anything said by a hardcore Warriors fan like myself too seriously.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 29 Points, 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 1 Block. Though he did go 2-7 from three point territory, he was the only source of offense for the Thunder at times. A mediocre day for KD is still a unbelievably great game for an average player.
Thunder Down Under: James Harden, for the early third quarter burst. He only played 15 minutes, but he made the most of them.
Thunder Blunder: Russell Westbrook, 21 Points, 5 Assists, 6 Turnovers, 1 Steal, 5 fouls. Just way too many boneheaded plays.
Thunder Plunderer: Stephen Curry, 23 Points, 13 Assists, 2 Steals. Monta Ellis may have provided the points, but without Curry's masterful PG skills, the Warrior would have not won this game, even with the Thunder's problems.
Next Game: Versus the Sacremento Kings, Tuesday, February 14th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.