Thunder seek win over depleted Warriors in playoff chase

April 3, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY -- When Carmelo Anthony played for the New York Knicks, he used to make a point of watching the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder go head to head.

"Those games are fun," Anthony said. "Those type of games are staple games. Especially now, with playoffs right around the corner. Both teams gearing up. I'm pretty sure it'll be ecstatic around here."

There's no doubt the Thunder will be plenty geared up for Tuesday night's final regular-season meeting.

How the Warriors will handle it is another question.

While Oklahoma City still has plenty to play for -- with four games remaining even the Thunder's presence in the playoffs is a question mark -- the Warriors have nothing left to do but prepare for the postseason.

Golden State has secured the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, too far behind top-seeded Houston to catch up and too far ahead of No. 3 seed Portland to be caught.

The Warriors also have a long list of players who are banged up.

Guard Stephen Curry will miss his sixth consecutive game with a sprain of his left medial collateral ligament. Guard Patrick McCaw is also out after a scary Saturday night injury that left him with a lumbar spine contusion, as is forward Omri Casspi with a right ankle sprain.

Andre Iguodala (knee soreness) and Kevon Looney (flu) are listed as doubtful. Stars Kevin Durant (rib soreness) and Klay Thompson (fractured right thumb) are both listed as probable.

But Oklahoma City can't afford to take any game lightly, especially with games at Miami and Houston looming in the next seven days before the season finale at home against Memphis on April 11.

Heading into Tuesday's games, the Thunder are in fifth place in the Western Conference, a half game behind the San Antonio Spurs for No. 4 and a half game ahead of the Utah Jazz for No. 5. The Denver Nuggets, sitting just out of playoff position, are 2 1/2 games behind the Thunder.

Even when the teams have been healthy, though, the Thunder have held up well against the Warriors, taking two of the three meetings this season.

"I think sometimes our length has been able to be something that's been helpful for us," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of why his team has had success against the Warriors. "We've been able to get that involved and maybe try to be disruptive with our hands, be disruptive with passing angles to be disruptive in terms of contesting shots late."

On Monday, Golden State's McCaw offered his first public comments since his injury, which occurred after Kings forward Vince Carter undercut McCaw as he went up for a dunk.

McCaw said on Twitter that he didn't hold his injury against Carter.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he wasn't sure when McCaw would be ready to rejoin the team.

"We haven't given one ounce to the thought in the basketball aspect of it right now," Kerr said. "We'll wait and hear the re-evaluation on Thursday and we'll see what happens. But right now, that's not on our minds."