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Game 2 Preview: Can Thunder control series with Warriors?

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Donovan appears to have a solid plan at this point, but the Warriors have a lot of tricks left....

Time for some wire-fu.
Time for some wire-fu.
W. Bennett Berry

The Oklahoma City Thunder are up 1-0 on the Golden State Warriors. Yes, the same Golden State Warrior team that had a 13 point halftime lead, along with the regular season record for most wins and last year's championship. Now, the Thunder try to do the impossible and go up 2-0 in the series.

Lineups

It's no easy task. The Thunder were able to win Game 1 largely because their double big lineup (featuring Kanter and Adams) didn't have to go toe to toe with the Warriors' super effective small lineup. In Game 2, I'm fully expecting the Warriors to adjust for that possibility. Furthermore, the Warriors made some fundamental mistakes on offense down the stretch of Game 1 that were just really uncharacteristic of the team as a whole. So I'm expecting the Warriors to bounce back in a big way. Golden State can exploit mismatches when they need to, and both Thompson and Curry got their share of open looks.

On the Thunder's end, look for Kanter to play center for all of the time that Adams isn't on the floor. Donovan experimented with Ibaka at center during Game 1, but the offense was downright disastrous. Also on the lineup front, Waiters has emerged into a new role as the backup point guard. Waiters really does well with pressure and seems to be capable. There will be a hard two now and then, but generally Waiters is playing pass first.

Plans of Attack

The Warriors have been pretty good at exploiting specific weaknesses within the Thunder's defense. Whenever Ibaka's in, his man attempts to take him off the dribble. Ibaka's lack of lateral quickness makes this effective. Kanter can get baited by Curry really easily, so that's a matchup that the Warriors like a lot as well.

But mostly, the Warriors are just running a really well designed and efficient offense. When the Warriors get on the break, even if there's only three men past halfcourt, there's a play that the team is running. And it's not uncommon to see offensive sets where the team is setting three or four screens. The Thunder have clearly studied a good part of the Warriors playbook and know where to anticipate passes. OKC's 12 steals in Game 1 speak to that. But the Warriors swill still generally favor efficient shots and hit a ton of threes. I expect the Thunder to continue to play far out to the perimeter on defense.

I expect the Thunder to shift a little bit on offense heading into Game 2. Kevin Durant will probably look for more threes, as well as more off-ball shots off of screens. Westbrook will probably be more careful about his shot selection from mid-range, and focus more on getting to the basket. But other than that, I'm really not expecting a lot of difference.

How Tonight's Game Will Go

The Warriors will have a lot of pride heading into tonight, and will definitely get out to huge leads. It's going to be important for the Thunder to ignite huge runs off of turnovers and rely on their role players to produce. OKC's defense has been what's really pulled through for them thus far. And it's going to take some real wizardry from Adams and Roberson on that end to keep OKC competitive.

Prediction: Golden State Warriors 102, Oklahoma City Thunder 99.

What do you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!

2016 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals Game 2
@
55-27
(Thunder lead series 1-0)
73-9
(Thunder lead series 1-0)
May 17th, 2016
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, California
8:00 PM Central Daylight Time
TV: Turner Network Television
Injury Report: A Clean Bill of Health!
The Series So Far: Game 1 (W 108-102)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Stephen Curry
Andre Roberson SG Klay Thompson
Kevin Durant SF Harrison Barnes
Serge Ibaka PF Draymond Green
Steven Adams C Andrew Bogut

Poll

Who's going to win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    The Oklahoma City Thunder
    (207 votes)
  • 29%
    The Golden State Warriors
    (85 votes)
292 votes total Vote Now