Thunder in the News: The keys to beating the Warriors

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Paul George
OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Paul George /

Steph Curry or no Steph Curry, tonight’s matchup against the Golden State Warriors is a huge test for the OKC Thunder.

I’m not mincing my words when I saw that an Oklahoma City Thunder win is mandatory tonight. It’s not because of the tight Western Conference Playoff race, nor because of the boost it will provide for a recently sluggish squad. No. The OKC Thunder need a victory tonight because it would showcase what formula will work best for this team in the Playoffs.

Oklahoma City has not had a consistent identity all season. Yet as we’re about to find out, they have have specific elements in place that the defending World Champions (and arguably the most talented team in NBA history) simply can’t handle. Replicating their performances from the two Warriors’ wins would provide this team with a recent example of how they should play in the Playoffs.

If they don’t play with the forthcoming facets, however, a win will be almost impossible.

Basis of Thunder basketball is the Warriors’ Achilles Heel

What’s been Oklahoma City’s biggest advantage against Golden State since 2016? Length and athleticism. While this isn’t a secret, it’s something that the Warriors simply can’t gameplan around. Russell Westbrook’s explosiveness can’t be contained for 48 minutes. A Westbrook-Paul George-Corey Brewer-Josh Huestis-Jerami Grant lineup can switch everything on defense, limiting the Warriors’ spread offense’s effectiveness.

It’s up to Billy Donovan to craft a gameplan that best utilizes these features. He did it in 2016, so let’s hope he can replicate that performance tonight.

"As a team, with length, quickness and height across the board in Westbrook, Paul George, Corey Brewer, Jerami Grant and others, the Thunder has the physical abilities to give even a star-studded team like Golden State some challenges offensively."

So is Oklahoma City’s starting center

A roster full of lengthy, athletic players is nice, but to beat the Warriors you need a genuine difference-maker. That’s where Steven Adams comes.

Instead of writing about all the things the Big Kiwi does to disrupt Golden State’s game, just read Fred Katz’s fine piece that’s filled with eye-popping statistics that showcase just how much Adams affects the Warriors style of play.

"Golden State hasn’t found an answer to Steven Adams."

Important to monitor Jerami Grant’s minutes tonight

The final piece to the puzzle is one Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City’s most recent favorite son. Grant has been playing the best basketball of his life and it couldn’t come at a better time. Our very own Gideon Lim broke down the film for us, highlighting exactly what’s changed with Grant’s game.

While I won’t show you the entire analysis, I absolutely love Gideon’s final point. If Grant can continue this play it’s very possible that the Thunder have a different forward to play in crunch-time situations.

"Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry intentionally schemes around Grant’s strengths by putting him on a strong side shooter."

Next: Previewing final Warriors matchup of the regular season

That’s it for today’s issue of Thunder in the News! As always, our Twitter account is a must-follow for tonight’s game. If you’re yearning for more OKC Thunder content just check out