INTEGRIS Game Day Report: Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors – March 20, 2017
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. CT
- Television: TNT
- Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
For the fourth time this season the Thunder will clash with the Golden State Warriors, but both teams are going to look different than they did during the Feb. 11 matchup in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder has Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, Norris Cole and a healthy Enes Kanter, while the Warriors will have the services of Zaza Pachulia but not of Kevin Durant. Much like the Thunder has developed and crafted its identity throughout the season, the Warriors certainly have a style of play and a pervasive ethos that they try to get to on a nightly basis. Even without Durant, Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan knows the Warriors are still going to try to play up-tempo, transition, pass-and-shoot basketball.
“The core of how they want to play and what they want to do is the same,” Donovan said. “Knowing personnel is important.”
One way to get the Warriors off their game is to limit their opportunities in the open floor. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson knocking down shots from deep, the Warriors can go on runs in the multiples of three very quickly. For the Thunder to prevent those transition buckets from going down, it has to be efficient on offense and make sure it gets a shot at the rim on nearly every possession. For Thunder bigs, that means being smart about handling double teams. For the guards like Russell Westbrook, it’s not playing in traffic.
“We’re doing a better job of taking care of the basketball,” Westbrook said. “When you do that it slows teams down. Making shots is a big key tonight.”
Game Day: Russell Westbrook-3/20
Part of the reason the Warriors can be tough to be efficient against is Draymond Green, a one-man wrecking crew who is amongst players like Andre Roberson who are in the conversation for All-Defensive Team honors. In order to combat Green’s presence, activity and physicality, the Thunder has to be strong with the ball, crisp with its cuts and relentless with its effort.
“(Green) really impacts the game but it doesn’t have to be scoring,” Adams said. “Everything within the role, he does that at a very high level. He impacts the game as much as anybody else on the court.”
Once the Warriors do have the ball, it’ll be a full, five-man defensive effort that has the best chance at getting the job done, with a bunch of individual efforts adding up to a stop. Guards like Roberson, Westbrook and Victor Oladipo must chase their men around screens and limit those easy catch-and-shoot opportunities, while also denying driving lanes for easy layups. If the Thunder can make the Warriors work, it’ll be a tight contest tonight.
“All you can do is try to make it as difficult as you possibly can and feel good about the effort that you’ve provided and put forth,” Donovan said.
In the second of a three-game home stand, the Thunder will have the home fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena rocking and rolling to help provide any extra life or energy necessary. At 26-9, the Thunder has the third-best home record in the Western Conference, and the fourth-best home record in the NBA overall. The team hopes to use that boost to its advantage tonight.
“I think we have the best fans in all sports because of their consistency and how loyal they are to us,” Westbrook said.