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Preview: Westbrook leads surging Thunder against wounded Warriors

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OKC is finding their momentum at the exact time the Warriors are faltering. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will need to be firing on all cylinders to protect Oracle from their rivals.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details

WHO: Oklahoma City Thunder (10-6) at Golden State Warriors (12-6)

WHEN: Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 7:30 p.m. PST

WHERE: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

WATCH: ESPN, NBCSBA

LISTEN: 95.7 The Game

BUDDY BLOG: Welcome To Loud City

Injuries

Warriors: Stephen Curry (out, groin), Draymond Green (out, toe) Alfonzo McKinnie (out, left foot) DeMarcus Cousins (out, Achilles rehab)

Thunder: Alex Abrines (questionable, illness) Jerami Grant (questionable, ankle), Nerlens Noel (questionable, illness), Terrance Ferguson (questionable, personal reasons)


After limping through a winless road trip in Texas, the back-to-back champions return to Oakland for a four-game homestand to kick off the holidays.

The champs have been sidetracked by injuries to their two best distributors, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. As such, the offense stagnated during the three-game losing streak as Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson struggled mightily to knock down shots.

In addition to the amount of bricks piling up recently for the champs, there’s been a lot of frustration as the team is still digesting the emotional fallout from the Durant-Green spat, as evidenced by KD being fined for lashing out at some fans in Dallas.

This is the point in time in which Durant and Thompson have to step up and lead their teammates through the adversity. The disjointed basketball and emotional dysfunction leave them vulnerable to the hungry teams in the West; especially their bitter rivals from Oklahoma City.

The Thunder want vengeance

Former Durant teammate and 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook was forced to watch as KD celebrated his second consecutive championship on opening night, as the Warriors defeated the Thunder 108-100 in their first meeting of this season. Westbrook was injured and rooted to the bench, but that didn’t keep him from getting into it with bestie-turned-enemy.

Westbrook will be back in action tonight and is stuffing the stat sheet as usual, averaging 24 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. The Warriors will have to be particularly careful with Curry out; Westbrook will be looking to humiliate whoever plays in Curry’s place.

The Thunder are ranked fourth in defensive rating and lead the league in steals at 11 per game. Westbrook and small forward Paul George are ball hawks who aggressively cheat passing lanes knowing they have the massive rim protector Steven Adams behind them.

George in particular has filled in for the spot Durant vacated quite well. “PG13” is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals right now, and has smoothly filled in as a capable leader when Westbrook has missed games due to injury. Together, they are a two-headed monster on both ends of the floor that can provide hell for a Warriors team lacking playmaking and spacing.

Gold-blooded prediction: OKC wants to carve up the Warriors heading into Thanksgiving. Durant and Thompson want to show their injured All-Star teammates that the team is in good hands. This is going to be a physical battle with no love lost. The Oracle crowd will have to will the home team through this daunting challenge.

KD, go ahead and get 40 and remind OKC why they hate the Dubs so much.

Warriors 107, Thunder 105