When: Monday 3/20 at 5:00 PST (it’s an early one!)
How to watch: TNT (early game, not CSN? It’s a DVR nightmare!)
Blog buddy: Welcome to Loud City
I’m not sure what exactly makes a rivalry, but the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder have something going that’s more fun than a rivalry– a grudge.
This grudge was first shaped during the playoffs last year, when the Warriors somehow managed to outlast the Thunder in a grueling, gonad-kicking, seven game playoff series. Then, the hatred was truly forged when Kevin Durant chose to join the Warriors rather than continue on in OKC.
Since then? A series of petulant gestures sent by OKC and it’s players have sharpened the edge - from a custom-made cupcake shirts, to Westbrook playing dumb when asked about Steph “who he?” Curry’s MVP recommendation (hint: it ain’t Westbrook).
Curry, for his part, has refused to engage in the war of shade: “No, I don’t have a response to him,” Curry said. “But if you ask anybody in the league, they’ll probably have an opinion on who they think (should win MVP), whether you agree with it or not. It’s not, obviously, my decision.”
So far this season, the Warriors have walloped the Thunder on and off the court. After luring away their favorite perennial All Star in the offseason, in the three matchups in the regular season, the Warriors have beat them by 26, 21, and 16 points, respectfully. This game will be different though because now we have to do so without Kevin Durant, who has been absolutely destructive against his old team.
Without Durant, it wasn’t until recently that the Warriors have looked pretty good, and Steph Curry is finally showing signs that he may be emerging from his shooting slump. But make no mistake, this will be the first real test of how “back” Warriors basketball really is. The Thunder can easily win this game, particularly if the splash brothers’ shots don’t fall, and if Andre Iguodala doesn’t assert himself as he has been doing lately.
No one has averaged a triple double since Oscar Robertson, but I think Westbrook may actually do it this year. He’s currently at 10.3 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game (don’t worry about scoring, Westbrook leads the league with over 31 points per contest). Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams have emerged as Westbrook’s main supporting cast members; be sure and check out this excellent article by R.K. Anthony over at Welcome to Loud City.
Overall, the Thunder are a dangerous, but middling team. Fueled by Westbrook’s relentless (but less than highly efficient) attack, the Thunder rank 14th on offense and 10th on defense – good enough for the 5th of 6th seed in the West. They have been hot lately though, and picked up their fifth win in a row after handling the lowly Kings over the weekend.
Stacking up angry Westbrook, at home, against a short-handed Warriors squad on the first day of a back-to-back scares me a little. Oddshark.com tells me the Warriors are favored to win by four points and that feels about right to me. This one is shaping up to be one of our toughest tests all season.
In case you hadn’t heard yet, here’s something you should know: the Warriors are softer than a peeled grape. Yup, jump shooting softies…bums! The whole lot of ‘em. Sure the Warriors have the #2 ranked offense AND defense (and that’s including the recent struggles), but it’s mostly luck, from what I heard.
Speaking of luck, these guys have somehow lucked themselves back into a semi comfortable two game lead in the West again. Steph Curry, pretty much the poster boy of lucky shots, is slumming his way along this season, as he is wont to do.
Stephen Curry now owns five of the top eight single-season three-point totals in NBA history with 258 threes this season.— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) March 19, 2017
The guy is so bad, he’s managing to beat himself for all of these “records” of his. Ugh!
All joking aside, this newly rediscovered swagger the Warriors seem to have found is a fragile thing. A win against a capable and exceptionally motivated Thunder team would be a strong indication that the Warriors are once again unstoppable (baby).
Team statistical comparison
The Warriors only play 13 more games before the regular season comes to an end. I’m starting to get nostalgic already – is it possible to miss something before it’s gone? This was the closest I could find (I really love the internet sometimes!).