Final Road Trip Opens with Mini Series in the Bay
Date: Thursday, May 6, 2021
Tip-Off Time: 9 p.m. CT
Television: Bally Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
OKC wrapped up its four-game homestand on Tuesday with its first matchup of the season against the Sacramento Kings. While falling short, the Thunder overcame a 17-point deficit to make it a one-point game with seconds remaining in the contest. It took a collective, team effort to bring the game back to within striking distance as every single player to step on the floor scored for the Thunder for the 33rd time this season.
Darius Bazley led the charge with 24-point, 11-rebound double-double which marked his 12th straight game scoring in double figures. The second-year forward was responsible for the and-one play that brought the Thunder deficit to just one point with a minute left in the game.
The Thunder also got a chance to take a look at its newest addition in Gabriel Deck, who recorded 16 points in his fourth game in the NBA. Thunder two-way players Jaylen Hoard and Josh Hall also logged extended minutes on Tuesday after not playing in the Thunder’s game against Phoenix on Sunday. Both Hoard and Hall recorded seven rebounds while logging nine and seven points respectively.
Thursday’s matchup marks the second of the season against the Warriors (33-33). The first took place mid-April inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena where the Thunder ran into the red-hot shooting of Stephen Curry, who exploded for 42 points. Curry is averaging a league-leading 31.5 points per game this season and is shooting a blistering 42.6 percent clip from the 3-point line.
Along with Curry, Golden State’s offense feeds off of the facilitating efforts of forward Draymond Green who dishes out an average of 8.7 assists per night – good for sixth in the league. Between Green and Curry, the Warriors rank first in the league in assists per game with 27.4 per night. Green alone has 170 assists to Curry this season which is the most of any duo in the NBA this season.
Golden State will close out the remainder of its season on its home floor after a four-game stint on the road that included a back-to-back series against the New Orleans Pelicans where the Warriors won the first and dropped the second. In both contests, Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins contributed 26 points as part of a four-game stint where the six-year veteran is averaging 24.8 points while shooting 52 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point line.
The Thunder was without its defensive go-to Lu Dort in its last matchup with the Warriors. Offensively, Dort is averaging 19.8 points over his last 12 games all while providing the same high-level defensive prowess against the league’s best players. On Thursday, keep an eye on the matchup between Dort and Curry in the backcourt and how the Thunder second-year guard can limit the league’s highest scoring player.
Stat to Watch
Fast-Break Points – The Thunder gave up 21 fast-break points in its game against Sacramento on Tuesday. Missed buckets at the rim put the fast-paced Kings at an advantage on the break to score on the other end. On Thursday, the Thunder will face another high-tempo team in Golden State, who averages the second fastest pace in the league at 103.03. Keep an eye on the Thunder’s discipline in transition to get back, locate shooters and make the Warriors play against a five-man set defense.
The Thunder’s 48-minute mentality has resulted in back-to-back games with strong fourth quarter numbers. After trailing by large margins against both Phoenix and Sacramento, OKC went on runs to close both gaps to just one possession in the waning moments. As a result, the Thunder has averaged 32.5 points in the fourth quarter over the past two games while also shooting 49 percent from the field and 47 percent from the 3-point line.
“Those games are fun just because you get to learn so much from those games when it gets down the stretch like that,” said Bazley. “We’re so young. So being able to be in those situations and get that opportunity to just go through it, that's really big”