After getting waxed on opening night by a clearly better Los Angeles Clippers team, the Golden State Warriors have a chance at redemption this afternoon. Up against the Oklahoma City Thunder - a team comprised of grit and young dudes, the withering hamstrings of Chris Paul, and a whole lot of draft picks - is much more firmly in our weight class right now... well below our weight class, actually.
But as we saw with the recent bandwagon departures, Dub Nation will take a win any way we can get it. The Thunder present a very beatable opponent, and with a back-to back games (the Warriors fly into New Orleans to take on the Zion-less Pelicans on Monday), I expect a focused and determined team to show up tomorrow.
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
WHEN: Sunday, October 27th; 12:30 PM
WHERE: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
Blog buddy: Welcome to Loud City
How bad are the Warriors?
It’s a simple question, but simple doesn’t mean easy to answer. With just one game of evidence (plus some preseason), it’s clear the answer is “at least a little bit bad.” Beyond that, the team is still a work in progress.
At the top of the roster, it’s still clear that the Warriors upper echelons can do good things on the basketball court. D’Angelo Russell spun off 10 straight points to take the lid off the basket in the first game, and Stephen Curry ended up with a respectable 23 points on the night, even while struggling through an unusually off shooting night (just one of 11 three pointers connected, as compared to his career average of 43.6% from deep).
Draymond Green had an off night - a paltry 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 28 elbow-rubbing minutes. But the precipitous drop off from there is where the problems start, especially if Kevon Looney can’t play. Looney, who left the game with what the team called “hamstring tightness” may not be available Sunday. He had a team-leading nine rebounds in just 10 minutes on the court, if he can’t go, it adds another item on the to-do list for the team’s young players.
In the first game, Eric Pascal was the one who slotted in to fill the void at power forward - playing 33 minutes, chipping in 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and just one turnover. Marquese Chriss, the man who cost Alfonzo McKinnie his job, essentially fouled himself out of the game, collecting four fouls in just eight minutes.
At the wings, Glenn Robinson emerged as one answer for a Warriors team in desperate need for anyone to show that they can meaningfully contribute to winning basketball. Right now, advancement towards familiarity is more important for the team than wins, but ideally we can have both on Sunday. If you are the sort of person who looks on the bright side of things, it’s hard to imagine the team struggling more on defense than they did in the opener.
Warriors had a 133 defensive rating, worst of any team in its opener. Problems galore. But I thought Glenn Robinson was a minor bright spot. He guarded Kawhi and looks like a capable deterrent as team's primary wing defender. Here's some of that battle. pic.twitter.com/vQw3esZxRS— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 25, 2019
How bad are the Thunder?
While the Warriors pencil in as a team good enough to probably make the playoffs, things are not as rosy in Oklahoma City. Long time mainstay Russel Westbrook isn't on the Thunder for the first time since he entered the league - traded away for Chris Paul's aging hamstrings and acerbic tongue (plus some draft picks).
But the Thunder did also haul in some pretty nice assets for Paul George, prying both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari - two players who can contribute right away. Alongside bulky powerhouse, Steven Adams, the Thunder are not going to win any championships, but neither are they going to be an exceptionally easy win.
Though the game is going to be tighter than is comfortable, I still think Golden State will manage to squeeze out a victory tomorrow. Look for Curry to have a more efficient shooting performance, and the team to fight hard for rebounds. As long as they can keep Adams relatively contained in the rebounding battle, I like our matchups at all the other positions.
Warriors win a close one to cinch their first victory of the season, 121-119.