Golden State at Oklahoma City
Time: 7:30 PM CT (ABC/ESPN)
Spread: GSW -7.5
Betting odds c.o dimes
Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City has been met with sufficient hype and pregame chatter between the two-time MVP and current MVP candidate Russell Westbrook. Durant and the Warriors are 7.5 point favorites as the clubs collide on ABC at 7:30 Central PM tonight. The over/under is set at 227.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers, and OKC is 19-7 at home this season.
The Thunder are coming off a big 118-109 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on national television Thursday night. Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double with 29 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds. Victor Oladipo has been coming on of late, he added 23 points and seven rebounds. Oladipo was dealt for on draft night, as the Thunder parted ways with Serge Ibaka to obtain Oladipo, starting power forward Domantas Sabonis and the since-departed Ersan Ilyasova. Oladipo has tallied averages of 16 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists over the Thunder’s last 10 games.
In the two meetings at Golden State this year, Oladipo scored 20.5 points per game and averaged three rebounds as well in 33.5 minutes. His efforts are huge with Golden State’s saturation of backcourt talent, but truthfully Oladipo should be able to more than hold his own wilth Klay Thompson at this point, and that matchup is key to this game, all things said. Kevin Durant has such a clear edge at small forward, and Westbrook can certainly duel with Stephen Curry, but Oladipo outplaying Thompson has to remain a focal point as an advantage the Thunder can press. V.O. is a guard capable of impacting games and he plays passing lanes, coming up with 1.3 steals per game this season and 1.9 per game over his past 10.
Also crucial for the Thunder is to continue to get offense from Steven Adams. With Enes Kanter still injured, Adams play on the offensive end becomes crucial as OKC’s lone post threat. Sabonis is a face-up stretch-4, and Andre Roberson is not an overwhelming offensive threat as a defensive specialist. The Thunder’s win over the Cavs was largely enabled by Adams accounting for 20 points and having his way with Tristan Thompson on the inside. Adams is not gifted with a toolbox of post moves, but he has an effective hook shot and soft range. He can catch and finish.
Pairing a center of his caliber with a playmaker like Westbrook is sufficient for OKC to get third-option type production from Adams, and it is absolutely requisite it does so until its Sixth Man Kanter is healthy again. Kanter is averaging 14.4 points per game this season, but he fractured his forearm punching a chair. It was initially reported as just a wrist injury, but the fractured arm was the result of a frustration act on Kanter’s part and the Thunder pay the price because his bench scoring is vital to their team. Long-term it may not be huge, but OKC needs to secure as many victories as possible to stay out of any potential matchups against Golden State or San Antonio in the first round.
Golden State is 22-5 on the road this season and coming off a road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Warriors have won their past two since falling oddly to Sacramento 109-106. The Warriors have won 7 of its last 8 overall, and it easily handled business against the Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls, winning the games by an average of 23 points. Even tonight against OKC, the Warriors approach being double-digit favorites, and for the hoopla made over 73 wins a year ago, this season’s win differential ranks even higher than a year ago.
Of course, the wildly efficient play of Durant on both ends of the court and his seemingly unappreciated elite defense have had plenty to do with it. The Warriors may lack a premier rim protector and an anchor to its defense, but Zaza Pachulia has had a fair season and the rest of the team is so good that guys like Draymond Green can more than make up for the respective losses of Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut. Green had a phenomenal triple-double that was done without scioring double-digit points, as he finished the night against Memphis with four points, 10 steals, 10 assists and 12 rebounds. Never has a four-point effort been so dominant.