The OKC Thunder and Golden State Warriors are playing in one of the most hyped up playoff series in recent memory. It is filled with a lot of drama and excitement since these two teams played two extremely entertaining games in the regular season, which both ended in Warrior wins. Now, though, I think OKC may be doing something that few other teams were able to do, and that is figuring a way to beat the Warriors.
With last night’s blowout OKC victory that saw Durant and Westbrook both on the bench in the fourth quarter, the Thunder are two wins away from perhaps the biggest upset in NBA history. It would be a big upset for OKC and a huge disappointment for the Warriors. I am not going to count them out though. They have the MVP and one of the best supporting casts I have seen in my time. So by no means are the Thunder in the clear yet. Do they have a little bit of momentum? Yes. Do the Warriors have what it takes to win game 4? Yes. What this means is that game 4 will be vitally important to the Thunder because winning will put the pressure on Golden State at home and then they will have the opportunity to close it out at home, given they lose game 5. Golden State can steal back home-court with a win on the road and then put the pressure on OKC in game 6.
So how did the Thunder “figure out” the Warriors game plan? First off, the Warriors pack the paint on defense. They put Bogut on Andre Roberson, who is a defensive specialist and not a shooting threat. Draymond Green guards Adams, who is not a scoring threat unless underneath the basket. Klay Thompson guards Ibaka, who can shoot, but is better than having Durant and Westbrook shoot. Stephen Curry chases Westbrook around with Bogut acting as a zone defender for him. They do the same thing with Durant, but Thompson acts as the second defender to help out Barnes. Last night, the Thunder were able to punish the Warriors down low and take advantage of them in transition. The Warriors did miss a lot of shots, but that can only be an excuse for so long.
Steve Kerr’s bench also did not help. The famous small-ball lineup (Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes, and Green) got destroyed by the OKC lineup (Westbrook, Waiters, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka). The Thunder’s ability to rebound defensively opened up numerous fastbreak opportunities. All in all, the Thunder beat Golden State at their own game.
Now with the series at 2-1, I am putting the pressure on Golden State to win game 4. If they do not, I don’t see OKC losing at home when a chance to close out is on the line.