By Will Stevenson
Analytics have driven the conversation for the past few years in the NBA. During this Thunder versus Warriors series, analytics can definitely be used to explain how the Warriors have been overmatched by the Oklahoma City Thunder. But for this moment in time, let’s put analytics aside and let’s get down to the issue at hand. OKC is whooping the dog *bleep* out of the Warriors.
Before this series started, I hoped and yearned for a competitive series. One that would blow the fans away as we would marvel in the excellence of these two teams fighting for a spot in the NBA Finals. A chance to watch as Curry, Thompson. Draymond and the rest showcase their team brillance against Durant and Westbrook. This isn’t what we have received. The Thunder are not only aggressive, but counter-punching as well. They are Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather at the same damn time. They are dominating in every category; Fastbreak, 3s, getting to the basket, free throws, pick and roll defense, close-outs on 3s.
Should we be surprised the way the Thunder are playing? Yes, yes we should. Their defense was average during the regular season, and now they have done the impossible; Stop Steph Curry, cool their ! I’m stunned. We’re all stunned to say the least. The Thunder defensively dominated the Spurs and Warriors in back to back series. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we must remember the Thunder were at home.
Now, the Thunder did win Game 1 in comeback fashion, but now is the time for both of these teams to show who they can be.
For the Warriors, it is all or nothing. The media and fanbases have been waiting on this moment since Steph c-walked and shimmy’d all over the Thunder during the regular season. The 73 wins are not enough to hold over the applause from last year’s championship run. I suppose Steph Curry isn’t cute enough to overcome a loss in the Western Conference Finals to a team who seems to be playing for their future.
The Warriors are back home for Game 5, and this will be their most important game this playoffs. There’s one thing to lose to a team that is better, and there’s another thing to lose the way they have been losing. Their assists are low, hustle is low, shooting is low, defending is poor, turnovers are high and decision making is very inept. Usually the Warriors shoot their way out of this, but the Thunder have been able to withstand their efforts. Tonight is the night for the Warriors. They can’t lose this game at home… Can they?
For the Thunder, it seems like this is your time. To close out the Spurs on the road in 5 and to have the opportunity to do it again tonight is very impressive. Game 5, on the road, with the chance to end the defending champs season… It can’t get any better than this for the Thunder. With every win increases their chances of keeping Durant. With every win they have taken it to the Warriors. This Game 5 for them is of most importance. It’s a chance for them to write their own narrative and shift the conversation to Title Contenders. They’ve already shifting the betting odds in Vegas, and tonight would be another notch on their belt as they blister through these playoffs.
So here it is, a the defending champs on the ropes versus the team who’s tired of hearing about them. This is going to be great.
Warriors by 14
Thunder by 16