OKC Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors preview – 01/18/17
After a disappointing loss against the Los Angeles Clippers to start the week’s fixtures, the OKC Thunder are now faced with the Golden State Warriors. Tip-off is 9:30 PM C.T.
The Golden State Warriors versus the OKC Thunder may not be a historic rivalry, but this season it’s one of the hottest fixtures on the NBA schedule. And it’s not hard to see why.
For just the second time in his career Kevin Durant will face the Thunder on the opposite team, and once again it’s on his home court in Oakland.
OKC goes into the game after three matches in four days, with just one win from the run. On Monday a Steven Adams-less starting five were blown off the court by the Clippers in a 98-120 loss, whilst their three-game hot-streak was ended by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
Meanwhile for the Warriors they go into the game looking for win number five on the bounce, having recovered from their over-time loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on the sixth. Just before the Thunder lost to the Clippers, Golden State romped to an impressive victory at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the season they now sit at 35-6.
The Thunder’s average points return has slowly been lowering, now reading at 106.5. The 1.3 plus/minus differential is dropping as we speak. Despite this plotting nicely in the top ten scoring teams, it’s nothing on that of the Golden State’s stat-sheet , as they boast 117.7 points per game and a plus/minus of a whopping 12.6.
The two franchises have already met on one occasion, in a blowout victory for tonight’s hosts. That game was the Thunder’s first loss of the season, on a night that saw Durant score 39 of GSW’s 122 points.
It means that the Warriors have now won four regular-season games in row against the Thunder, having swept the series last season. It also meant it was four games from any match-up too, as the Thunder lost three games in a row during last season’s Western Conference Finals against Dub Nation last season.
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Key Players and Predicted Lineups
The Oklahoma City Thunder will as always look to Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo when it comes to scoring tonight, especially since they’ll be without Steven Adams.
The center missed the game against the Clippers on Monday and had been on a stellar run of late, with three 18-plus-point performances in January already, coupled with around a block a game.
The aforementioned Westbrook is still leading the side in points, assists and rebounds however, with a league-high 30.7 in the former. What’s more, the Thunder are 16-4 when Russ grabs a triple-double, meaning fans will be hoping he grabs number 21 for the season tonight. The point guard scored 20 last time the Thunder faced Golden State.
Enes Kanter will be hoping for retribution after a dismal performance in the Thunder’s last game against the Warriors, and will look to lead the second unit as he has done before. The big man’s player efficiency rating is now exactly 25.00, thanks to a 20-point average from his last five appearances.
Predicted Starting Five:
- Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
- Shooting Guard: Victor Oladipo
- Small Forward: Andre Roberson
- Power Forward: Domantas Sabonis
- Center: Joffrey Lauvergne (*)
Notes: (*) – Lauvergne is in for Steven Adams, who has returned to OKC due to concussion.
(**) – Grant started in center against the Clippers, and is the other option to replace Adams.
Russell Westbrook will once again have the task of guarding the ever-dangerous Stephen Curry tonight. The point guard might not have replicated his point returns of last season, but The Chef has put up two 30-plus-point games from his last five outings, and is now averaging 24.6 for the campaign.
However the Andre Roberson-Kevin Durant match-up will be the key. KD is leading the side in points per game with 25.8 on top of 8.6 boards. Draymond Green is the leading the side in assists however, with his well-spread stat-sheet seeing him notch up 7.7 a game as well as two steals.
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Completing the Warriors’ star quartet is Klay Thompson, who will look to improve on his 39.2 percent three-point average. The 26-year-old has still converted 122 threes for the season however, including five-of-eleven against the Cavs on Martin Luther King Day.
Predicted Starting Five:
- Point Guard: Stephen Curry
- Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson
- Small Forward: Kevin Durant
- Power Forward: Draymond Green
- Center: Zaza Pachulia
Notable Substitutes: Andre Iguodala (SF, PF), Ian Clark (SG).
Injuries and Game Specifics
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As aforementioned, the only man unavailable for the Thunder would be Steven Adams, who missed the entirety of Monday’s loss against Los Angeles after picking up a concussion in the win against the Sacramento Kings at the weekend.
Cameron Payne, who missed the first third of the season with injury, will act as back up point guard to Russell Westbrook.
Meanwhile the Warriors will have their entire roster available for the encounter, as they search for their 20th home win of the season.
To watch the game, you can tune in on FOX Sports Oklahoma or listen along on WWLS 98.1FM OKC. You can also watch along with an NBA League pass. Tip-off is 9:30 PM Central Time.
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