NBA Western Conference Final Playoff Prediction
Thunder Vs Warriors Game 2 Analysis & Game Lines
By Dan Favale
Golden State Warriors (-8.5) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (+8.5)
What does it say about the Golden State Warriors that, around 48 hours after forfeiting home-court advantage, they are favored over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2 by more than they were in Game 1?
It says that they thrive off this stuff—that they welcome adversity and doubt and unanticipated challenges.
That seemed to be the general feel emanating out of Golden State’s players following Game 1. They are ready for this. They know they had that tilt in the bag. They know they missed a ton of looks that they normally hit. And you shouldn’t expect that to happen again.
You also shouldn’t expect Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to shoot as poorly as they did on the offensive end. That the Thunder won despite their two best players combining to shoot 17-of-51 from the floor is nothing short of incredible—a testament to Oklahoma City’s defensive stands, which have been sensational since around Game 4 of their second round bout with the San Antonio Spurs.
If either of Durant or Westbrook, let alone both, have a trademark performance in Game 2, it puts that much pressure on the Warriors. Just as the Thunder cannot bank on the Stephen Curry going 9-of-22 from the field, the Warriors cannot count on Oklahoma City’s superstuds fading into borderline irrelevance on the offensive end.
This matchup, though, will be all about adjustments, more than it is tracking the offensive exploits of participating All-Stars and MVPs. The Warriors’ small ball “Death Squad,” which consists of Harrison Barnes, Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson, was the team’s most used lineup in Game 1. And those five outscored the Thunder by eight points through 13 minutes of action, even though the Warriors ultimately ended up losing.
Expect Golden State’s coach, Steve Kerr, to rely on that group of players even more. They force the Thunder to run with only one big on the floor, as opposed to two; no combination of Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter, after all, can keep pace with a Golden State power forward-center pairing of Green and Barnes. Forcing that adjustment gives the Warriors a distinct advantage. They carved up whomever Thunder coach Billy Donovan slotted at the 5 in response.
Donovcan could consider using Durant at the 5 in those situations, but then he’s tasked with fleshing out a half-competent supporting cast around him. Either way, the smaller the Warriors go, the more likely they are to win. And working off a loss that should have been not just a win, but a blowout win, we should expect them to, well, win. And win big.
The Pick: Warriors (-8.5)
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