The Golden State Warriors were shocked in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, but the Warriors bounced back to the surprise of almost no one, winning Game 2 over the Oklahoma City Thunder, 118-91.
The Warriors did have their collective moment of looking mortal. The Oklahoma City Thunder stunned the Dubs on Monday to take a 1-0 lead in the Best-of-Seven.
But Golden State trounced the Warriors in Game 2, reminding everyone why this team went 73-9 in the regular season.
What caused such a drastic reversal in the Warriors fate? What specifically went right for the Warriors that had proved to be so problematic in Game 1?
The reasons are really pretty simple, and they all begin with the MVP Stephen Curry. Curry’s exploits defined Game 2, appropriately, and perhaps never have 28 points been done with any more style or punctuation. But before we spoil any surprises with that, let us turn our attention to Golden State’s three keys to the win.
1) Golden State Controlled the Glass
The Golden State Warriors were able to get second shots a plenty. One sequence in the second quarter even saw Golden State collect four straight offensive rebounds before finally scoring. When the game had completed the Warriors tallied 15 offensive rebounds and 10 of those came in the first half.
The Warriors’ starting frontcourt of Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, and Harrison Barnes accounted for eight of the 15 total, and the Thunder were just not able to keep the W’s from snaking through to create second shots.
The Warriors held a +9 advantage on the boards for the game, and that kind of edge was more than enough to get the team going after misses. The Warriors still shot over 50 percent from the game, but of the 42 misses, over one-third were collected.
2) Stephen Curry was a one-man run and one-man wrecking crew.
Stephen Curry scored 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter, but 15 of those came in less than two minutes (1:42 to be exact) as he ignited a one-man 15-2 run over the Oklahoma City Thunder that pretty much put the game out of reach in the blink of an eye.
Curry finished the game an ultra-efficient 9 of 15 from the field and he hit 5 of 8 from three-point range. When Curry began his run the Thunder tried to put a chill on it with a timeout. Curry simply canned another three right out of the timeout and he pretty much put the game fully out of reach. It just happened oh, so fast.
3) The Warriors made Durant a non-factor in the second half and the OKC needs more scoring options.
Kevin Durant single-handedly kept the Thunder in the game in the first half. He had 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting at that point, while his teammates (including Russell Westbrook) were a collective 11 of 29.
Durant would get just five field goals up the second half as the Warriors sought to keep the ball out his hands to make Westbrook beat them.
Well, it worked: Westbrook hit just 1 of 3 from the field and Dion Waiters took the stage to fire up a good number of bricks on a 3 of 11 shooting night.
No Durant, no offense.
It has become somewhat clear at this point that the Thunder really lack scorers outside of its two megastars, and that has to be what spells their demise if anything does.
When the Warriors are able to basically try to make the supporting cast beat them, it is not a good proposition for Billy Donovan. How can he get more from his roster than what is there, though?
The Thunder clearly need a third wheel to support the Durant and Westbrook madness, and it almost seems like some guy named James Harden may have been there at one point. Jokes aside, the Thunder will need to bolster its roster before it can pose serious problems to a team like Golden State. Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter (six points, two rebounds) cannot be the supplementary scoring. Kanter is barely playable without his teammates coaching him through the defensive rotations.
That statement perhaps applies league-wide, but OKC has to get some supplementary pieces around Durant and Westbrook. The Thunder have good role players like Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, and even Enes Kanter—but it seems that OKC could really benefit from having a third option that matches the likes of Kevin Love or Chris Bosh. Westbrook and Durant need more help. This series is making that fully evident.
Before any of that can happen though, this series will reach its close, and the Thunder are very much in this having stolen a game at Oracle—and homecourt advantage.
Game 3 will be Sunday in Oklahoma City at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time on TNT.