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Thunder vs Warriors preview and gamethread: shorthanded OKC looks for statement game against the champs

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The Thunder look to rebound from the Kings loss, but must do so against a Warriors team looking to get back on track.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Game: Oklahoma City Thunder @ Golden State Warriors

Time: 9:30CST

Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

Broadcast: ESPN

***

The Oklahoma City Thunder continue their road trip in California by traveling north to face the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Thunder are coming off a disjointed and frustrating loss to the Sacramento Kings where, despite Russell Westbrook’s return, the team played below expectations and suffered their 6th loss on the season.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are going through a rough patch of their own, if you haven’t heard.

What is pertinent to tonight’s game is the Warriors will be shorthanded, as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are expected to miss another game due to injury. This element is meaningful, as the majority of offensive creation falls on the shoulders of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, and the pair have struggled to maintain Golden State’s lofty standards.

However, not is all sailing smoothly for the Thunder. They are building toward something that is finally greater than the sum of its parts, most notable during their consistent performance while Westbrook was out, but it is difficult to be that way when so many of your complimentary parts are missing:

For a Thunder team still struggling with shooting consistency, the potential lack of availability of Alex Abrines and Jerami Grant (46% from three in November) is ominous, as it quickly shuts down driving lanes Westbrook will look to exploit. Furthermore, OKC has a chance to be dominant at the guard position tonight, but only if Westbrook and Dennis Schroder do a much better job in shot selection and finishing plays.

Ultimately, OKC’s chances in tonight’s game will come down to whether they can play to their strengths — a physical inside game (Steven Adams), driving and kicking (Schroder, Westbrook), and aggressive defense (Paul George) — or if they get 3ball-happy like in Sacramento and shoot themselves out of contention. Either way, given all the personnel question marks (and you never know if KD is going to curse out Russ or gift him matching infant onesies), it’s going to be weird.

Poll

Who do you think will win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 75%
    Thunder
    (82 votes)
  • 24%
    Warriors
    (27 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now

In a bit of randomness, I came across this video from 2008. Pause it at 3:35.