The Oklahoma City Thunder travel to the Oracle to face the struggling and banged-up Golden State Warriors. The Thunder are coming into the Bay Area coming off a close game vs. the Kings where they eventually lost. However, Russell Westbrook did return from his ankles and the birth of his twin baby girls and he looked like his normal self. The Warriors really do not look like they are in good shape after being losers of their last 5 games.
Thunder Trying to Recover From Poor Start
The Thunder come into this game only 2 games in the win column and tied in the loss column with the Warriors and we all know that these two teams aren’t the biggest fans of each other. Russell tends to play a pretty emotional game vs. his former teammate and KD also wants to have a good showing. I think the Thunder will come in here very motivated to win this game. This is a nationally televised game against the back-to-back champions that are hobbling in.
The Thunder built this team to compete for championships and they are starting to play like a better overall team this year than we really ever saw last year. After a poor start, the Thunder are 10-2 in their last 12, even without Russ in some of those games. We have seen Paul George seem more comfortable in the offense and still continue to put up solid defensive numbers on a daily basis. The matchup between KD and PG should be a great one and will really have a lot to do with the outcome of this game, as KD will really be asked to carry the load for the Warriors.
Warriors Try to Overcome Injuries
The Warriors are without Steph Curry and Draymond Green on Wednesday and that is MASSIVE. Steph is so much more important to this offense than most people understand. Not only is Steph and elite offensive player, but he also plays so well off of the ball that he takes the team to a new level. This team has lost their last 5 games because they have lacked the energy and enthusiasm that we have come to know with the Warriors of recent years. That all starts with Steph and the way he plays the game. The ball movement is worse. The player movement and screening is MUCH worse. This team needs Steph more than most people realized until now.
Kevin Durant is the one asked to step up the most in these situations, but he has kind of fallen flat of late. As we have all seen, he got into a recent argument with Draymond Green that even resulted in Green getting suspended for one game. Some believe that this has messed with Durant even on-court without Draymond. Whatever the situation is, Durant has not done what his teammates need him to do until Steph is back and can run this team the way he always has. Klay has been asked to do a little more and that is exactly what has happened.
Warriors vs. Thunder Prediction
This entire breakdown seems to push me towards the Thunder, but I cannot pick against the Warriors in this game. The biggest problem with the Warriors is Kevin Durant’s lack of leadership on the court recently. I find myself watching these games just waiting for Durant to take the game over at some point, which really hasn’t happened. I just believe that this is the game that we do see that Durant. He has had to manage this team without Steph before and it wasn’t nearly this bad, so I know that this team can still be really good with Durant at the helm.
The last thing Durant wants is a national game to showcase the Thunder and Russell Westbrook extending the Warriors losing streak to 6 because Durant “needs Steph.” Durant is known to be a little petty, and I think that he knows this is what is coming if he loses Wednesday night. I’ll take the Warriors (-1) and whatever KD props you can find if you’re into that as well.