Thunder (1-game winning streak)
105.0 Offensive Efficiency (4th)
99.1 Defensive Efficiency (12th)
95.7 Pace (6th)
Warriors (1-game losing streak)
102.2 Offensive Efficiency (8th)
103.8 Defensive Efficiency (25th)
95.0 Pace (11th)
The Thunder are now right in the middle of their 5-game road trip and are playing at Golden State for the second time this season tonight. Kevin Durant always has big games versus the Warriors and did the first time these teams played this year with 37 points and 14 rebounds in 44 minutes. Serge Ibaka also had one of his best games of the season against the Warriors this year scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. The Thunder overpowered the Warriors with their star power late in the game on the Jan. 27 meeting running pick-and-roll with Russell Westbrook and Durant almost exclusively down the stretch in the 120-109 victory. Expect the same thing this time around for Oklahoma City but they won’t want to play Durant 44 minutes tonight.
Thunder keys to the game
1. Get to the line
The Thunder didn’t do a good job of this last night at least in the second half. Durant would only shoot one free throw in the game even though it seemed like he got beat up a lot. That definitely can’t happen tonight against the Warriors and probably won’t. The Thunder shot 37 free throws against Golden State the first time they played while the Warriors only attempted 19 free throws. Golden State has an efficient offense but one way to always make sure you have an advantage against them is by getting to the line more.
2. Slow down the Ellis-Curry tandem
Oklahoma City did an excellent job of not allowing Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry to have big nights against them in the first meeting. Ellis shot 5-of-17 from the floor and Curry 6-of-16. Curry was recently coming back from injury for that game so should be closer to full strength tonight. The two are a terror in the pick-and-roll and the Thunder have struggled against the pick-and-roll this season. Like the first time they met, I will be crucial to play them tough in the pick-and-roll game and not give them space to create for themselves and others.
3. A Westbrook kind of night
The best part about having Russell Westbrook is for games like this. The Thunder are on a back-to-back and Kevin Durant shot 33 times last night. The Thunder are playing a team that they should overpower and with Westbrook, they probably will. Westbrook is a matchup nightmare for Ellis and Curry and should be able to do whatever he wants tonight. I’m feeling like this is the kind of night where Westbrook should just be given free rein to run and do whatever he wants. He scored 28 points and had 11 assists the last time they played and I don’t see why he doesn’t have another huge night tonight.
Prediction: Oklahoma City wins 108-100.
A look at the matchup at Blue Man Hoop.