Thanks to some great play from the dynamic duo & company, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a comfortable 3-1 lead heading back to the Bay Area.
The difference for these two teams has been obvious: the Thunder’s stars have out played the Warrior’s stars. Not only that, but the production that OKC has gotten from the role players has been phenomenal. Steven Adams has been an intimidating force in the paint, Serge Ibaka has been shooting well, and as always, blocking shots; and the biggest surprise, SG Andre Robinson, chipped in 17 points and 12 rebounds in game 4. Another key has been the difference in defensive production. The Thunder’s defense was extremely active, grabbing 16 steals, and blocking 8 shots in game 4. While the Warriors have struggled just to get consecutive stops.
Of course Draymond Green’s awful play, and Kevin Durant’s ability to get buckets has been a huge contribution to the Thunder’s success as well, but the pinnacle of their success has been one player:
The key match-up going into this series was the two best PG’s in the league, Russell “the walking triple-double” Westbrook, and Stephen “make it rain” Curry (sorry for the awful nicknames). Both create problems for opposing defenses. Russell, because of his effectiveness on the pick-and-roll, as well as on the fast break; and Steph’s effectiveness at breaking a defender down, and knocking down 3’s at will. I said after game’s 1&2, that whoever won at this match-up, would win the series.
KEY MATCH-UP: Steph Curry Vs. Russell Westbrook
Game 1: Russell Westbrook: 27 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds
Stephen Curry: 26 points, 7 assists, 10 rebounds
Game 2: Russell Westbrook: 16 points, 12 assists, 1 rebound
Stephen Curry: 28 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds
Game 3: Russell Westbrook: 30 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds
Stephen Curry: 24 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds
Game 4: Russell Westbrook: 36 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds
Stephen Curry: 19 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds
From these numbers we can see a direct correlation with the games and whoever wins at the PG match-up. So far, whoever has won this match-up has won the game. Steph, having his best effort in Golden States game 2 victory. It is very apparent who has won this match-up in this series.
Russell Westbrook has been dominant in all facets of the game, outscoring, out rebounding, and out assisting Curry.
Also, on the other side of the ball, Stephen Curry has been held to just 24 ppg, on 41% shooting from the field, and 16-43 from behind the arc. All very uncharacteristic of Steph this season.
I expect Steph to bounce back in a big way in game 5, but with all of momentum in OKC’s favor after two huge blowouts, I would not be surprised if the Thunder close this out in 5. All of the pressure now mounts on Steph and his Warriors, who, even if they win, have to go back to Oklahoma for game 6, a place that has not been to kind to them. Despite their historic season, history is against the Warriors.
Not many teams have come back from being down 3-1…
9 to be exact.