The Golden State Warriors will look to recover from their game one mistakes as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second time in three days. OKC stunned fans of the NBA in the Western Conference Semifinals, defeating the San Antonio Spurs in six games to reach the final four.
Games three and four will be played at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, meaning the ball would be firmly in Oklahoma's court if they could snatch another win tomorrow night.
Oklahoma City break season-long habit in Game One
Not many teams could say they had the opportunity to beat the record-breaking Warriors over the course of the regular season, but for Oklahoma City, it was an opportunity they blew not once, but twice.
On February 28th, the Thunder were 57-46 up on the Warriors at halftime, before Dub Nation took the game to overtime, winning with seconds remaining thanks to unanimous MVP Stephen Curry.
Just a week later on the 6th of March, the game was tied at a narrow 83-a-piece at the end of the third quarter. The Thunder however. scored just 23 compared to the Golden State's 39 in the final, losing the game 121-106.
This time around though, with fire in their bellies, Billy Donovan's side came back from a 47-60 half time scoreline to win 108-102, thanks to a 38-point third quarter. They also subdued the Warriors to just 14 points from the final 12 minutes, their worst return this season.
Their respective series so far
Thanks to their high finishes in the Western Conference, both OKC and the Golden State enjoyed easy first rounds this year. Tomorrow night's hosts comfortably defeated the Houston Rockets 4-1 despite losing Steph Curry to injury.
Meanwhile, the Thunder surged past the Dallas Mavericks in a similar 4-1 fashion, grabbing 108 or more points in all four of their wins.
In the semi-finals, Curry returned with a 40-point game in Game Four to help defeat the Portland Trail Blazers. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green both grabbed returns of 37 points in the absence of the MVP-winning point guard.
However, more impressive scenes took place in Oklahoma and San Antonio, as a three-game winning run saw the Thunder blow the Spurs away, despite being underdogs going into the series.
Kevin Durant managed 41 and 37-point games against Kia Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard en route to victory, as the defensively-stellar Spurs saw their backcourt concede over 110 in both game four and six.
Battle of the point guards to decide the matchup
Whilst the court will be filled with many superstars tomorrow night, all eyes will be on the franchise's respective point guards, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry.
Many could argue that Curry was still recovering from his injury in his 26-point Game One performance, but the six-foot-three point guard grabbed his side's highest rebound and assist returns, with ten and seven respectively. The 2015 and 2016 MVP winner has averaged 25.0 points per game from an average 30.2 minutes of play over his five playoff game appearances this year.
Meanwhile, the fierce 27-year-old Westbrook has averaged 25.7 points per game in 12 appearances this postseason, featuring two 30-point games against the Spurs.
Over the course of the regular season, Westbrook tied the triple-double record set by Magic Johnson, whilst also being the only player to average over 20 points and ten assists per game.
The Thunder will boast a clean bill of health going into the tie, whilst the Warriors will be able to give more minutes to center Andrew Bogut. The 31-year-old played 17 minutes of the series-opener, having previously been in doubt due to a hip injury.
Tip-off is 9:00 PM E.T. on the 18th of May.