Time: 7:30 PM CST
Location: Chesapeake Arena, OKC
Counterpart: Golden State of Mind
The Thunder welcome the Warriors to the ‘Peake tonight in what will be a game with playoff implications. The Thunder, with their last second loss to the Pacers, tumbled from 3rd to 5th place in an instant, and now must climb back up in the standings to pursue potential home court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Warriors have experienced some uneven waters of their own, and now potentially having to play without Kevin Durant, must maintain their lead over the 2nd place Nuggets, who only trail Golden State by a single game in the loss column.
In the first two meetings, the Warriors were without new acquisition DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins has steadily worked his way to a level of impact, and in particular against the Thunder he will have a better chance at keeping Steven Adams at bay. The Thunder have long-relied on their offensive rebounding against the Warriors, but this could be neutralized tonight.
Russell Westbrook always runs hot against the Warriors, and we can look for him to be in the same mindset as he goes against Stephen Curry. Meanwhile, Paul George will look to take advantage if Durant doesn’t play, though Andre Iguodala is no slouch when it comes to slowing down elite scorers.
The Thunder’s game plan will largely come down to how they decide to defend tonight, particularly against Curry. One of the biggest consistent setbacks OKC has experienced of late is a propensity to fall into foul trouble early in quarters, thereby giving the other teams easy points while neutralizing their defense and fast break. And despite Curry’s recent shooting slump, he has proven he can work to the line when he needs to, making OKC’s defensive focus all the more important.
OKC has a tendency to get sharply motivated against teams in these situations, but motivation isn’t the cure-all when the symptoms are lazy offense and careless defense. Regardless of whether Durant suits up, the Thunder will need to be motivated AND focused to earn a win tonight.
Who do you think will win tonight?
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