Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
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.
The Warriors go 0-3 on the road trip, their first 0-3 trip under Steve Kerr and their first under any coach since February 2013 -- 69 months ago.— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) November 19, 2018
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:
Terrance Ferguson is available tonight. Alex Abrines did not go through shootaround. Nerlens Noel did. Those guys will be evalauated tonight. Jerami Grant went through shootaround. Availability TBD.— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) November 21, 2018
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.
Who do you think will win tonight?
This poll is closed
In a bit of randomness, I came across this video from 2008. Pause it at 3:35.