Indeed, it has. The Thunder had a 21.5 percent chance to defeat the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Not a great chance at all, but after winning Game 1 at Golden State, the odds significantly increased to 42.7 percent. Things look great for Oklahoma City because they already stole a game on the road, but that’s only because they did what they were supposed to do in the second half. Like I mentioned in my previous story when previewing this series they had to do these things to defeat Golden State.
Stephen Curry can’t guard Russell Westbrook. Hopefully ,this isn’t a surprise to anyone. You could possibly argue this point during the first half of the game, but even then, Russell just didn’t hit his shots. Steph’s lack of defense didn’t get exposed as much, partially because he kept getting switched off Russell…The reason is obvious, Russ is too strong for him. When you mix the strength and speed against Steph Curry, you’ll see the blemish in his game.
No answer for the Adams and Kanter. Can’t forget about Serge as well. These three combined for 35 points and 29 rebounds in Game 1, and Enes Kanter didn’t play great. Surprising at times he looked more stout on defense than he did offensively. Never thought I would say that. Nevertheless, he can be better. He should average close to or at a double-double every game this series. Golden States’ big men combined for 27 points, but 23 of those came from Draymond Green. As predicted, this series is a little too much for Andrew Bogut, who finished with three rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes of play. He was ineffective, and I don’t see him having much of an impact in this series whatsoever. Festus Ezeli may be Golden State’s only other choice, but I’m not sure if his skill set can match up with Ibaka’s or anyone else’s in the paint. Ezeli finished the game with three points in seven minutes. Also, Oklahoma City won the rebounding battle 52-44.
Nothing. Just sticking with it. Like Kevin said, man, regardless of what’s going on we feel we’re confident in the guys that are on the floor. Our job is to defend at a high level and constantly keep working at what we do, and it worked for us in the second half.
-Russell Westbrook on the change between halfs for Enes Kanter.
Bench play. If I said before the game, OKC would only play three bench players, and Golden State played five, you’d probably assume the Warriors won the game. Since we all know that didn’t happen, what was the X-factor for the Thunder?
Dion Waiters. He did a great job getting into the offense coming off the bench and produced 10 points on 4-6 shooting. He also had a couple of pretty sequences where he involved other players. Enes added eight points, and Randy Foye added a three. Golden State’s bench didn’t produce as much. Their five bench players only scored 16 points. In this case, quality beat quantity.
Oklahoma City is now up 1-0 on the NBA’s best regular season team in history, and they got that one victory away from the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Don’t think this is the only win they’ll get in Oakland either. They are 5-1 on the road in the playoffs and only blew one fourth quarter lead, early in the Dallas Mavericks series. Since then, they’ve stayed solid in the final period, and on a few occasions overcame a deficit to win the game. This is what [they] said couldn’t happen, but they were wrong. It’s happened and I think it’ll happen again, probably Game 5.
Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports