Preview: Thunder vs. Warriors - 10/26
Following its regular season home opener on Sunday and a day of practice, the Thunder now welcomes the Warriors to Paycom Center for the first night of a back-to-back. Compared to the towering frontline of Philadelphia, the Thunder will be now be faced with a much different challenge in Golden State, but the focus will be on carrying over the same competitive intensity that the team played with against the 76ers on Sunday for a full 48 minutes.
What to Watch
Matchup to Watch
Keep an eye on the matchup between OKC’s defensive ace Lu Dort and the Warriors’ Stephen Curry on Tuesday. Despite this being Dort’s third NBA season, it will also be an assignment Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault will be watching as Dort has only faced Curry once in his career.
“I’m excited to see Lu on him tomorrow,” said Daigneault. “Curry is just a different cover than anyone else. A lot of these guys are very, very good players but it’s very similar fundamentals that carry over from player to player and this guy is just a completely different style and it takes some getting used to, but I think Lu will get better every time he guards him and we’re looking for some forward progress tomorrow.”
Compete for 48
The Warriors present a much different challenge than the larger Philadelphia roster. As a sharpshooting team that plays a smaller lineup, the Thunder will focus on staying sharp defensively for a full 48 minutes. Getting back in transition, setting a tone of physicality and limiting looks from beyond the arc will all be key on Tuesday.
“You just have to be on it against them,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “It’s going to require a 48-minute and a possession-by-possession mentality on the defensive end and then on the offensive end, you’ve got to attack them and you’ve got to get cracks.”
Playing Through the Paint
Against Philly, The Thunder’s offense was +14 in paint scoring. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who led the league in droves per game last season, led the Thunder with 29 drives on Sunday. Meanwhile, just under half of the Warriors field goal attempts come from the paint so far this season. Be on the lookout for the Thunder’s offensive paint production, but also how the group limits Golden State’s easy looks around the rim.
With a dunk over Joel Embiid in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Thunder third-year guard Lu Dort surpassed 1,000 career points. The Montreal native notched 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal while also drawing an offensive foul.
“He's going [to the rim] strong obviously, but the spirit he's going with is nothing new for us and he's got to give us that,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault following the Thunder’s game against Philly on Sunday. “That's what he brings to the team, he brings kind of a fearlessness and a competitive edge that can be very contagious, and I thought we saw that at different times [on Sunday.]”
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl on defending Golden State’s shooters:
“You know these guys are going to go out there and get a lot of 3’s, they’re going to make a lot of them, theyre going to find a lot of ways to score the ball but just going out there and making it as difficult as possible for guys that are going to get buckets. We have a game plan and we’re going to stick to it and live with the results with that. Just making it as difficult as possible for those guys.”
Philadelphia enters Oklahoma City having split its first two regular season games, most recently dropping its matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday 109-114.
The Warriors enter Oklahoma City riding its first 3-0 start to the season since 2015-16. In its most recent victory, Golden State downed the Sacramento Kings on the road 119-107. Twelve-year veteran point guard Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 27 points while dishing out 10 assists – marking his 5,000th career dime. Curry leads the Warriors in scoring averaging 31 points per game so far this regular season while Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins chip in 17 and 15 points respectively. Behind Curry’s team-leading 7.3 assists per game, Golden State’s Draymond Green follows closely behind with 6.3 per night.
Heading into Tuesday night’s matchup, the Warriors will be without sharp-shooter Klay Thompson (right ACL repair), James Wiseman (right knee meniscus) and 2021 first-round draft pick Johnathan Kuminga (patellar tendon strain).