The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors 108-102 last night at Oracle Arena, and it may have been all the Thunder needed to steal this series.
The Thunder, led by 28 from Russell Westbrook and 27 from Kevin Durant, trailed for most of the game. It had all the makings of a traditional Warriors series-opening win: the crowd was deafening, Stephen Curry hit an amazing buzzer-beating shot to end the first half, and Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Curry all finished with over 20 points. However, for what seems like the first time this entire season, none of it mattered.
The Thunder were able to cancel out the raucous home crowd at Oracle Arena and mount an improbable second half comeback, holding the potent Warriors offense to just 14 points in the fourth quarter. The run was highlighted by a clutch Durant jumper with just over 30 seconds left in the game. Oklahoma City looked calm and prepared in the fourth quarter, the same place team after team this season have looked dazed and confused. The Warriors gave the Thunder their best Rougned Odor slug to the jaw, but Durant, Westbrook and Oklahoma City took it like Jose Bautista.
With the win, all the Thunder have to do now is win their three home games and they advance to the NBA Finals. That is much easier said than done, as they are facing a motivated Warriors team determined to advance to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. After the game, Curry said of the loss “It’s not a good feeling losing Game 1, especially at home. It’s fun to have this opportunity to come back, show what we’re made of.”
The Thunder got a big assist from third-year center Steven Adams, who chipped in for 16 points. That doubles his usual output of 8.0 PPG, and the Thunder will need performances like this if they hope to continue their momentum against Golden State.
This win was very much a surprise to fans and the NBA community, but it begs the question; can the Thunder keep this up? Golden State has a far deeper bench, and arguably three of the five best players on the court in Curry, Thompson and Green. If there’s one area the Thunder should be able to expose the Warriors, its rebounding. Durant, Adams and Serge Ibaka combined for 33 total rebounds, while the team as a whole came away with 52 to the Warriors’ 44. If the Thunder can make the most of their offensive opportunities, something they couldn’t do for much of this first game, we will have ourselves a heck of a series going into game 2 on Wednesday.
This guy is just a boss. Dude gets diagnosed with a terminal illness and still shows up to work in a wacky suit with a smile on his face. I hope we get a few more crazy outfits before the season is over, and our fingers are crossed this guy can fight this and be back for the 2016-17 season.
Steve Kerr and Seinfeld:
Midway through the first quarter, Steve Kerr had a lighthearted moment with a referee, making a Seinfeld “Festivus” joke. Nice try Steve. These refs are cold blooded, you could make him roll on the ground laughing and then the next second you’ll be screaming in his face for calling a technical on Draymond. Interesting approach though.
Bogut Flagrant on Westbrook:
I think Westbrook might have pulled out his old flopping tricks on this one. When I first watched this, I thought he hit his face on the hardwood with the way he reacted. Sure, Bogut probably had some pretty sweaty, stinky hands by this point in the game, but let’s not act like it was that bad, Russell.