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Warriors vs. Thunder Preview: Hey look, a game to win

Golden State has no excuse to not beat OKC.

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Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are back home, and they’ll be staying there until the regular season is over. All six of the Dubs’ remaining games are at Chase Center, and it starts with a duo against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It’s imperative that the Warriors do what they could not do against the New Orleans Pelicans: sweep. There’s no excuse to not win both games.

But let’s start with one.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (33-33) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-45)

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area (available on fuboTV)

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Thunder: Luguentz Dort, Théo Maledon, Darius Bazley, Isaiah Roby, Moses Brown

Last results:

Warriors: Lost to the Pelicans 108-103 — 2-3 in their last 5 games
Pelicans: Lost to the Kings 103-99 — 1-4 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 109.9 offense (24th), 110.8 defense (6th), -0.9 net (20th)
Thunder: 104.2 offense (30th), 114.1 defense (24th), -9.9 net (30th)

The story

At this point, every Warriors game carries the same story. They’re jockeying for postseason positioning, and trying desperately to avoid a single-elimination play-in game. They’ve got a favorable schedule, with all six remaining games at home, three of which are against lottery-bound teams, and one of which is against a team they’re fighting in the standings.

Bank wins. That’s the name of the game, and the entirety of the story.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Draymond Green.

Green has been playing his best basketball of the season lately, and has been leading a very spirited Warriors defense. Against the worst offense in the NBA, he should have ample opportunity to flex his muscles on D and be an absolute superstar.

Thunder player to watch: Lu Dort.

Dort remains perhaps the only reason to watch the Thunder with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sidelined. The second-year wing is averaging 14.1 points per game and offering up his fair share of highlights and fun moments. He’s also offering up his fair share of undrafted sophomore on a bad team moments, so it’s not quite clear what the Thunder will get with him on the court.

Matchup to watch: Warriors bench vs. Thunder bench.

Unless something goes horribly wrong, the Warriors should have a very clear advantage when the starters are on the court. The Thunder’s best hope for an upset comes in the bench minutes, especially given how injured the Dubs’ reserves are. They’ll need good showings from Juan Toscano-Anderson, Jordan Poole, and Mychal Mulder if they want to keep the leads comfortable and safe.

Keys to victory

  • Limit fouls so that the Warriors strong defense can prey on OKC’s horrendous offense
  • Get and make open looks from beyond the arc
  • Rebound well to avoid giving the Thunder an opportunity to exploit Golden State

This is a game you’ve got to win, Dubs.

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