The team with the best regular season record of all-time is at the brink of elimination. Thanks to Donovan's sly tactics of moving to various iterations of small ball, the Thunder were able to sweep Games 3 and 4 at home. But various role players have stepped up as well. Adams has done his usual work near the basket. Dion Waiters is hitting big shots fairly consistently. And even Andre Roberson has stepped up, scoring 13 points in Game 3 and 17 points in Game 4. Roberson's 17 points were an NBA career high. Somehow, Dre has integrated himself into plays more effectively and found his three point jump shot. Go figure, right?
Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors' death lineup has been a complete dud. Curry has been ice cold, Thompson has only been passable, and Draymond Green has been downright horrible. The Thunder are generally good about shutting down the three point line, generating turnovers, and scoring in transition.
It's almost hard to remember the legendary Warriors that pile points on the Thunder. The key to that engine is obviously Curry. If Curry can work his way out of double-teams and find open space on off-ball screens, then the Warriors machine will start clicking. Then Klay Thompson becomes harder to guard, and guys like Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala are getting open shots.
More than likely, I'm expecting Kerr to go big and try to match up with the Thunder. The death lineups awful performance over the past two games should be enough to get Kerr to shift things up. It's what championship coaches do. This effectively turns the game into a scoring contest. The presence of Bogut and Ezeli should open things up for Curry, but slow down the Warriors ability to push the pace and make threes. The bottom line is that the Thunder have better raw athletes than the Warriors do, and will always win the open court game. In order to win, the Warriors must slow down and focus on generating offense.
Does a big lineup from the Warriors risk Donovan running Kanter at power forward? Absolutely. Donovan will want to have Kanter take advantage of the Warriors smaller PFs. Furthermore, Donovan loves the rebounding advantage the double-big lineup brings. But I think the Warriors ability to space the floor, even when big, will still negate the Kanter lineup. Ultimately, I hope that Donovan doesn't use the Kanter lineup. But I think he will.
Anyway, a win today would be huge for the Thunder. A win gives the Thunder some guaranteed rest before seeing LeBron in the finals. A loss isn't the end of the world, but there's no need. We've figured this team out, and I have no doubt Big Blue will play to win tonight.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 121, Golden State Warriors 100.
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Who's going to win tonight?
This poll is closed
The Oklahoma City Thunder
The Golden State Warriors