The Thunder blew their lead against the Warriors in game six, and thus are headed back to Oracle Arena on Monday. Here are three keys to the Thunder defeating the Warriors:
The Thunder looked like a different team in the first three and a half quarters, than they did in the final six minutes. During the first portion of the game, the Thunder looked methodical in their shot selection; in the final minutes they seemed rushed and unorganized. To beat the team with the most wins in NBA history, you have to play consistently well throughout all 48 minutes.
The Thunder outscored the Warriors 83-75 in the first three quarters, and were promptly outscored 33-18 in the fourth. OKC had a -15 point differential in the fourth quarter. Yikes.
Oklahoma City has had trouble all year in the fourth quarter, but since the start of the San Antonio series, finishing games hasn’t been much of a problem. That is, until they had the chance to close out Golden State in games five and six. Check out the difference in play in the first 3 quarters:
Compared to their play in the fourth:
#2 Going above GSW screens
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are two of the best shooters to ever grace a hardwood floor. I’d argue they’re number 1 and number 2 of all-time. Knowing how lethal the Warriors’ shooters are, why are the Thunder content going underneath screens? On plays when they weren’t going under the screens, they were simply not fighting through them enough.
The best thing the Warriors do is hit contested three pointers, if you leave them open, it’s just that much easier. To be fair, Golden State is probably the best pick-setting team in the NBA. Oklahoma City knows that, though. The Thunder need to go above the picks and fight through them, if they want to play the Cavaliers in the NBA championship.
#3 Westbrook and Durant need to take smart shots
Lets face it, Westbrook and Durant were bad in the fourth quarter. The Thunder were leading by eight going into the fourth and ended up losing by seven. Though many of the turnovers in the final minutes were attributed to Westbrook, Durant didn’t exactly help him out.
Andre Iguodala showed up HUGE in the fourth quarter, defending Westbrook very well and causing him to turn the ball over in crucial moments.
Outside of the fourth, Westbrook was pretty efficient. The star point guard missed a triple-double by just one rebound. He ended the game tallying 28 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds.
Though he put up numbers, Westbrook only shot 10-of-27 (37%). Durant was even worse in his shot taking, going 10-for-31 (32%).
Durant hasn’t been himself offensively in the past three games. The lanky superstar is shooting 30-of-86 (34.9%) over that stretch.
Durant doesn’t seem to worried about his offensive lapses, telling reporters on Sunday:
“On the offensive end, you don’t have to worry about me because I’m a professional scorer, and I know how I’ve been doing this for so long. I’m not saying I’m going to have a great game every night or I’m going to shoot well every night, but I tend to figure things out on the offensive end.”
Durant leads the NBA playoffs in PPG with 28.5; he’s going to need that much, and more, in Oakland on Monday.
- David Hennessey, @DavidHennessey_