2016 NBA Western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder - Golden State Warriors Game 3 preview and prediction

2016 NBA Western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder - Golden State Warriors Game 3 preview and prediction

The Western Conference Finals is tied at one game a piece. In Game 3, the Thunder will be playing at home, giving the Warriors a bit of a disadvantage.

robert-brunswick-iii
Robert Brunswick III

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors are tied 1-1 in the Western Conference Finals, which goes to show just how interesting this series is going to be.

The Warriors broke even at home, but they are now going to be stepping into enemy territory for the next couple of games. The fans in Oklahoma live up to the name of the team, because they are truly thunderous when it comes to cheering. The crowd will definitely be a big factor for Games 3 and 4, because if the Thunder can end their home stand with a 3-1 lead, then the Warriors are really going to have something to worry about.

Westbrook keeps doing what he does

Russell Westbrook has been an instrumental piece in coach Billy Donovan’s rotation the past few games. Although he is often very erratic with his shot selection, Westbrook has managed to score in clutch situations when he has to. Game 2 was a bit of a dud all-around for the Thunder, even though they were competitive for the first two quarters. It was very apparent that the team just could not duplicate the second half finish they had in Game 1.

Russell Westbrook has been lethal all year, but pretty out of control of late. Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
Russell Westbrook has been lethal all year, but pretty out of control of late. Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

For Game 3, there is no doubt in that Westbrook will be looking to penetrate and swing the ball out to the perimeter for threes -- because at this point, that’s one of the only ways this team can stop the Warriors. His speed will be crucial as well, because if you look back at Game 1, he was blowing by defenders late in the game to get to the rim and drew some fouls in the process. His turnovers will likely decline as well in the next game, that is if he decides to make crisp passes.

One change that is likely to be seen is Billy Donovan reinserting Cameron Payne into the rotation. He’s only had garbage minutes in the playoffs thus far, but he deserves a small load of minutes behind Westbrook. His shooting could really change the tides of the future games for the Thunder, along with his length defensively.

Durant should drive more

We’ve seen Kevin Durant rely heavily on jump shots these past two games, and even though he is one of the most lethal shooters in the league, it might be best if he cuts back on jumpers and drives to the rim. He’s one of the best players to draw fouls on the drive because of his lanky, smaller build. He’s highly adept at performing the eurostep, too, which has gotten him easy layups plenty of times. His defensive matchup is pretty difficult in Harrison Barnes, without a doubt, but that’s why screens can be extremely helpful.

Kevin Durant brings the ball up in Game 2. Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
Kevin Durant brings the ball up in Game 2. Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

A strong screen by Steven Adams or Serge Ibaka gives Durant just enough time and space to dribble right to the basket with ease. Combine a pick with his in-and-out dribble move, that’s a foul or a basket in his favor.

Game 3 takes place Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena at 8 pm/ET.

Prediction: Thunder win Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.

VAVEL Logo