It seems like it was yesterday when the reigning MVP Stephen Curry converted a 32-foot three-pointer to stun the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 121-118 win in overtime. The Golden State Warriors completed the incredible comeback that left the league in awe for the next 24 hours. Fast forward to today, and the rematch is set when these two Western Conference foes go head-to-head at Oracle Arena. Since their last meeting, these two teams could not have had more different experiences, with the Warriors coming away with another overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks, and the Thunder, who blew away a 22-point lead in their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last night.
Expect tonight’s game to be as highly competitive as the previous two meetings between these teams. The Warriors will aim to defend their home winning streak, looking for their 44th consecutive regular-season home win over Oklahoma City tonight. On the opposite side, the Thunder, perhaps emotionally drained after two devastating losses within the past week, will seek some much needed revenge in a victory on the road. A victory will not only get them back on the winning side, but avoid the regular season sweep to the defending champs as well.
Oklahoma City: Avoiding The Lapse
In their last 10 games the Thunder are 4-6, including their aforementioned losses to the Warriors and Clippers in games they looked set to win. The top priority for the Thunder tonight will be to avoid the lapse, not only on a game-to-game basis but for the entirety of the rest of the season. In their two previous meetings the Thunder battled with the defending champs and consistently kept each game within reach, losing both games by less than 10 points. Oklahoma City has no problem matching Golden State’s offensive firepower or effort, but what is hampering their potential is winning games down the stretch.
Simply put, if once again tonight’s game comes down to the final minutes, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant need to take over. And perhaps even more specifically, if the game comes down to the final shot, the Thunder must place their faith in Durant. There’s a reason why he’s an MVP-caliber player and one of the leaders of this team. Nonetheless as is the case whenever anybody plays the Warriors, the entire team must put in the maximum effort.
Golden State: Home-Court Advantage
There’s a significant factor in understanding why the Warriors have been so successful and dominant this season, and it’s also the same reason why Golden State was effective in the playoffs en route to their championship win: home-court advantage. Oracle Arena, with the home crowd motivating and supplying their home team with the extra energy needed to win, makes it a tough environment for opposing teams to play in. The Warriors will have to take advantage of playing on their home court tonight if they want to secure the season sweep over Oklahoma City. Yet perhaps more importantly, they’ll need this win to secure home court advantage long-term.
By long-term this implies home-court advantage during the playoffs. Securing the number one overall seed is imperative in a team’s quest towards the NBA Finals. With the San Antonio Spurs only three-and-a-half games behind them, the chase for the top overall seed is still very much a competition. Golden State should look for a victory tonight to not only continue their home winning streak, sweep the season series over the Thunder, but also to help their long-term goal, and that goal is winning another championship.
These two Western Conferences foes face-off tonight on TNT. Tip-off is approximately at 7:30PM PT.