Warriors-Thunder Preview: Working on the Right Moves

USA TODAY Sports

It's the third game in three days among the Warriors, the Thunder, and the Clippers. Only 1 team can go 2-0, and it won't be the Clippers.

Warriors (25-15) vs Thunder (33-9)

Tip-Off: 7:30PM PST, 10:30 EST
Venue: Oracle Arena

TV: CSN Bay Area, NBA.TV | Radio: KNBR 680

Blog Buddy: Welcome to Loud City


Previous Meeting 11/18/2013
Thunder 119 , Warriors 109 - Box Score

"Fall asleep to the gentle sound of threes raining down" - Warriors' commercial.
"Woke up this morning to the sound of Thunder...." - Bob Seger, Night Moves

Oh, what fun! First the Dubs play the Clippers, then Clippers-Thunder, then Warriors-Thunder. It's like a mini-round-robin tournament, and we're playing for the mini-win, Well, not actually a mini-win, more like a win we could really use, and one that would come in a nationally-televised game. After last night - preliminary data shows it was the most-watched game in NBA.TV history - there will be a lot of folks watching this one to see if Golden State can do better against OKC than the Clippers did.

It's a good question. If you happened to watch that game, you saw Kevin Durant demonstrate why he's likely the best scorer in the NBA this year (including a 1.048 TS% for the second half) . You saw the Thunder drop 15 out of 27 3-point attempts. You saw them beat one of the best teams in the league with relative ease, albeit without Chris Paul playing. You know that Russell Westbrook was 9-19 and 26 pts, despite being completely overshadowed by Durant. It would have been impossible to not recognize that they're the best team in the league right now.

On the other hand, if you watched them in Denver on Sunday, you know that they can be beaten. (Incidentally, while we complain about our schedule the OKC stretch of Nuggets, Clippers, and Warriors in 4 days is pretty outrageous itself.) And the Dubs are the only one of the three teams who didn't have to do these as a back-to-back.

Keys to the Game
  • Three point shooting - These are the two best 3-point shooting teams in the league. While we are justifiably proud of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson's marksmanship, Durant, Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha, and Westbrook are no slouches. One ray of hope here is that the Warriors defend the 3 much better than the Thunder do. The two teams take - and make - about the same number of 3s per game, so any advantage the Warriors can gain here should reflect in the score. Last time these teams played, Warriors were 5-16, while OKC was 13-20. Swap the number of makes, and Golden State could come out ahead.
  • Rebounding - Gang rebounding required. The Thunder are good at limiting rebounds, even if they aren't a great rebounding team. As Blake showed last night, you can have a solid individual game inside against OKC without pulling a win out of the hat. Boxing out, hustle, and try to keep Durant off the boards (are you listening, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, and Richard Jefferson?), since Serge Ibaka will get his. Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins could be useful inside in this one, and may see more playing time than we might expect.
  • Turnovers - on both ends of the court. While the Warriors are really bad at forcing turnovers, the Thunder are good at committing them. Taking the ball away cleanly should be a goal on defense. On offense? OKC doesn't force heavy turnovers, but they're the number two team in the NBA on transition offense. If Golden State gets sloppy with the ball, the Thunder will convert on the other end. Jarrett Jack, Klay, and Carl Landry will need to be especially careful. (Landry is actually the worst in the league at turning the ball over in the post, better than 1 time in 5.)
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