The Golden State Warriors exposed the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-88 in Oklahoma last night. The back-to-back champs made a point to jump on their fallen rivals early and often, and I have three gold-blooded musings from this bloodbath.
Let’s get it on!
Klay Thompson is a top-tier defender
Thompson is a Splash Bros and a notorious offensive superweapon. His 23 points last night came on a variety of deep splashes, mid-range jumpers, and even a posterizing dunk on behemoth Steven Adams.
Klay Thompson dunks on Adams, waits until the next whistle, wanders over to the Warriors bench and asks Cook/Bell: "Is that a body?"— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 17, 2019
But it was his defense that blew my mind last night. He turned 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook into a complete non-factor. Westbrook missed his first eight shots and looked generally confused. He would turbo into Thompson’s chest and either throw up some garbage at the backboard, or sling a pass to a non-shooter in the corner.
When he couldn’t get downhill, he just gave up and started standing in the corner, disheartened by Thompson’s defense. Of course, Westbrook can’t shoot, so that was a win for the Golden State defense.
Russell Westbrook when defended by Klay Thompson last night on 44 possessions:— r/Warriors (@GSWReddit) March 17, 2019
0/6 3PT pic.twitter.com/o0koa7YZG6
Per Monte Poole for NBC Sports Bay Area:
“(Klay’s defense) was fantastic,” Warriors forward Draymond Green assessed. “Klay, no matter who he’s guarding, is always up for the challenge. But he did a great job on Russ tonight, being into the ball and not giving him anything easy, picking and choosing his spots -- when to pressure and when to drop back. He tried to keep him off balance.”
Westbrook finished 2-of-16 from the field, 0-of-7 from beyond the arc, and with seven points. Oh yeah, and this dumb tech he picked up getting frustrated with the smirking Thompson’s defense.
Westbrook gets a frustration tech because Klay locked him up pic.twitter.com/WdxoFts85C— TheWarriorsTalk (@TheWarriorsTalk) March 17, 2019
This childish move was Westbrook’s 16th tech of the year, which means he’s gonna be suspended a game. What is, “low-IQ basketball” for $300, Alex?
It was macabre. If Thompson doesn’t make an All-NBA defensive team, there needs to be an official investigation.
Klay Thompson this season as the primary defender on:— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) March 17, 2019
James Harden: 31-78 FG (39.7 pct) over 3 games
Donovan Mitchell: 22-78 (28.2 pct) over 3 games
Russell Westbrook: 7-of-31 (22.6 pct) over two games.
The Warriors are blessed to have DeMarcus Cousins
I can’t believe so many people counted out “Boogie” Cousins in his first few weeks on the court after a year-long Achilles rehab. Not even when he humbly begged for patience as hinted to the challenges of not only trusting his recovering body, but also the mental dilemma of assimilating into one of the most cerebral teams in NBA history... on the fly.
People saw his uneven start to the year and immediately wrote him off as unplayable in the playoffs. I’m proud that this former All-Star who won an Olympic gold medal in 2016 is getting back into his groove and proving it on our alleged biggest competition in the West.
After dominating the Rockets in Houston, Cousins had a jolly good romp in OKC, rumbling his way to twelve points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks. He tied for the team high in assists with Green; it’s amazing watching both front-court players manipulate the defense and whip passes to the Warriors’ deadly shooters. The Thunder weren’t sure whether they should double Cousins or stay home on the other Dubs and watch Boogie hungrily feast.
Boogie finds Shaun cutting to the rack pic.twitter.com/BbMdCivRA1— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 17, 2019
His defense keeps on coming up big too. Cousins in particular had plenty of fun banging with Adams, keeping the rugged Thunder center from feeling comfortable the whole night.
Cousins loves taking charges, using that bulk as a brick wall in the paint. He uses his length on the floor to reach and harass ball handlers like a bear spearing salmon out of a river.
Cousins with two excellent reads in PNR defense, both producing OKC turnovers— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) March 17, 2019
OKC's offense is looking quite ugly so far. Cousins is fully engaged defensively and causing trouble— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) March 17, 2019
He’s gonna be force in the postseason folks, believe it.
The champs just beat the Rockets and Thunder on the road in consecutive contests, WITHOUT Kevin Durant. I assume they wanted Durant to watch his former teammates, the MVP’s Westbrook and James Harden, get baptized by the splash.
But in the big picture, the Dubs have been dominant in their travels around the NBA.
Not bad for a “down year,” right? Happy Sunday everybody!