Oklahoma City Thunder (15-3)(6-11) vs
Time: 7:30pm PST
TV: CSN Bay Area | Radio: KNBR 680
Blog Buddy: Welcome To Loud City
EvanZ already offered a scouting report for the Warriors' home game against the Thunder tonight and highlighted spot up shooting as a potentially key battle in deciding the outcome of the game.
However, in a game with little margin for error - and really, a need to do something better than average to add another big win to the Warriors' record - rebounding might be another key are to watch.
Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman points out that despite the Thunder's success this season, they've struggled on the boards so far this season. He tweeted about the issue yesterday after a win against the New Orleans Hornets, but wrote more extensively about the matter last Friday.
Entering Friday's games, the Thunder ranked 18th in rebounding differential at an even minus-1. Most alarming is the league-worst 13.3 offensive rebounds the Thunder has allowed, as OKC has yielded at least 10 offensive rebounds in each game this season.
The raw numbers do paint a slightly more dire situation than it actually is: as he mentions in that article, the Thunder do a great job of forcing opponents into missed shots with the second-best opponents' field goal percentage in the league at 41.5% as of today. That means opponents simply have more opportunities for rebounds at the Thunder's relatively fast pace to get offensive rebounds. So as it turns out the percentage of offensive rebounds that the Thunder allow (28.18%) is "only" 8th worst in the league right now. Nothing to brag about, but not as bad as it first looks.
Mayberry goes on to point out that all three of the Thunder's losses have occurred in games in which they lost or tied the rebounding battle with their opponent, which would suggest that maybe the Warriors have some hope for pulling off an upset if they can hit the boards hard. However, the bottom line is that they were still 7-3 in those games in which he observes they tied or lost the rebounding battle and if you consider the loss in DC against the Washington Wizards something of a fluke in a compressed 2011-12 schedule, it's not like this problem has reached crisis levels.
But back to the Warriors, there might be second chance scoring opportunities available against the Thunder tonight. And just as Evan points out that something has to give in terms of competing strengths (spot up shooting vs. spot up defense), something also has to give in terms of competing weaknesses - there aren't a whole lot teams worse than the Thunder in allowing offensive rebounds, but the Warriors (28.43% offensive rebounds allowed) are one of them. Furthermore, these two teams are among the five worst offensive rebounding differential teams in the league.
One thing we know for tonight is that the ball will bounce off of the goal and somebody has to go get it, even if neither team is particularly adept at doing so. If the Warriors are looking for an opening, following the path of the other three teams that beat the Thunder and hitting the boards hard might be a key factor, especially against a defense against which high percentage scoring opportunities can be hard to come by.