Western Conference Finals
Tip-off: Monday, 9:05 p.m. ET
The Warriors will be looking to take a 1-0 series lead when they host the Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday.
The Thunder surprised a lot of people by defeating the Spurs last round. Oklahoma City won 113-99 as a one-point home favorite in Game 6 and that was the victory that eliminated San Antonio.
The Thunder now come into this series after having won-and-covered in four of their past five games and they have a lot going right for them.
Oklahoma City outrebounded the Spurs in the final three games of its series and also held San Antonio to less than 45% shooting from the floor in four of the six games the teams played.
The Thunder will be hoping to keep it up against the Warriors beginning Monday. Golden State has, however, won every game in which PG Steph Curry (24.8 PPG, 6.5 APG, 1.3 SPG in playoffs) has been able to play this postseason.
The Warriors were 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS versus the Thunder this season. Oklahoma City has also lost five straight games at Oracle Arena, as the team’s last victory in the building came in 2013.
The Warriors also happen to be 11-1 ATS after two straight games where they were called for 25 or more fouls over the past three seasons.
C Andrew Bogut (Hip) is the only player listed on the injury report for either team, as he was injured last series and is questionable for this game.
The Thunder are playing their best basketball of the year at the moment and they’ll now look to knock off a Warriors team that set all kinds of records during the regular season.
The guy that has really stepped up his game for Oklahoma City has been PG Russell Westbrook (25.5 PPG, 10.8 APG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG in playoffs). In the final two games of the series against San Antonio, Westbrook averaged 31.5 PPG, 10.5 APG, 7.0 RPG and 2.0 SPG.
He has balanced his scoring and passing extremely well throughout the postseason and must continue to do so moving forward. His matchup with Steph Curry will come a long way in determining the outcome of this series and he must find a way to get it done on both ends of the floor.
SF Kevin Durant (27.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.6 APG in playoffs) has also been excellent for the Thunder. He had 37 points in Game 6 against the Spurs and will need to continue to get buckets against Golden State.
He should have no problem doing that, as he averaged 36.3 PPG on 52.9% shooting in three meetings with the Warriors this season.
Two other guys that will really need to play well for the Thunder are Cs Enes Kanter (11.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG in playoffs) and Steven Adams (10.2 PPG, 9.9 RPG).
Both guys have played very well for Oklahoma City in the postseason, as Kanter has been outstanding offensively and Adams has been getting it done on both ends of the floor.
If they can do their jobs this series then the Warriors may be forced to ditch their small-ball lineups.
The Warriors have not lost a game when playing with Steph Curry in these playoffs and they should have him at 100% heading into Game 1 of this series.
Curry was excellent in Games 4 and 5 last round, averaging 34.5 PPG and 9.5 APG on 50% shooting from the field. He was, however, just 10-for-27 from the outside and definitely is capable of shooting better this series.
Curry was unstoppable against Oklahoma City in the regular season, averaging 35.0 PPG and 6.7 APG in three meetings with the team. He has no trouble getting by Westbrook, but he must play well on him defensively on Monday and in the remainder of the series.
PF Draymond Green (17.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 7.0 APG, 2.3 BPG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) just might be the most important player for the Warriors in this series, though.
Green is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor, but he will need to hold his own on the glass and on the defensive end when guarding the Thunder’s big men in this series.
Golden State wins games by playing small-ball and if Green can’t do those things then the Warriors will be in trouble in this series.
SG Klay Thompson (27.2 PPG, 1.2 SPG in playoffs) is one guy that the Warriors shouldn’t have to worry about.
The Thunder are very weak at the shooting guard position, so Thompson should be able to have his way on both ends of the floor in this series.