The All-Star break is over, and the NBA is now in full playoff mode, as just twenty or so games remain on each team’s schedules. There is action up to and down the standings in both conferences right now, and it should make for an exciting finish to the season. You have Boston and Toronto battling for the top seed in the East, while the rest of the conference is locked in a tight battle. Only three games separate the three seed from the seven seed out East, this should be epic final twenty games of the season. In the Western Conference, you have a similar story.
The Houston Rockets look like they are hell-bent on locking up that top seed and are just a half-game ahead of the Warriors for the top line. The rest of the West? It couldn’t be closer. The San Antonio Spurs are in third place, eleven games behind the Rockets, but just two games ahead of the Pelicans for the eighth and final playoff spot. The All-Star break is always a great time to step back and really appreciate how competitive the NBA is and this season is as tight as anyone I can ever remember. Today I will take a look at two of the top teams in the Western Conference as the Oklahoma City Thunder play at the Golden State Warriors.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will travel to Oakland Saturday night to face the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder have gotten the best of the Warriors this season, as they have beaten them both times they have played them and will look for the season sweep tonight. For the Warriors, this game is all about payback. The Thunder beat them on this very court just a couple of weeks ago by twenty points, they seek their revenge tonight. The Warriors are -9.5-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 232.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 PM PST from Oracle Arena.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have had their struggles this season trying to adapt to their new big three. Every time it looks like the Thunder have thigs figured out, they go on a rough stretch and drop several games. Paul George looks like his stint in OKC is going to be a short one as the Lakers are mounting up for a run at the superstar. And Carmelo Anthony is struggling through his worst season as a pro.
The one constant though? Russell Westbrook. The defending MVP is his usually triple-double self this season, and while his production has slipped some having to share the ball with Melo and George, he is still capable of torching any team in the league he wants. Just ask the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook has killed the Warriors in their two games this season, and you can tell that Brodie loves to abuse his former teammate Kevin Durant.
In the two games against the Durant and the Warriors this year, Westbrook has stat lines that look like this, 34/10/9 and 34/9/9. You can absolutely tell it is personal for Westbrook and he is clearly getting the best of this rivalry with Durant right now.
The Warriors lost four out of the last nine games before the All-Star break. You know you are talking about a really good team when having a winning record over a nine-game stretch is the worst run you have had all year, but either way, the Warriors stumbled into the break a bit. The Dubs started the post-break schedule well, as they won a hard fought and high scoring affair in their last game against the Clippers 134-127.
This is a great regular season NBA game. You have the storyline of the Warriors desperately trying to hold off a red-hot Rockets teams for the top seed. You have the storyline of the Thunder trying to get their act together and make a push for the three seed in the Western Conference. But most of all, you have Westbrook versus Durant. That sibling rivalry has been must-see TV, and I would expect nothing less than that tonight.
It is damn near impossible to beat the Golden State Warriors twice in a year. And it may actually be impossible to beat them three times in one season. That has never happened against the Warriors since Steve Kerr took the head coaching job in 2014. That is what the Thunder will have to do tonight if they want to leave with the win. This game has explosive revenge game written all over it. The Warriors are going to want to win, and bad. But maybe too bad.
This line is just too big. The Warriors laying almost double-digits after the Thunder just spanked them on this very court two weeks ago? Really? Even though Westbrook seems to own them? Really? I think the Warriors get their revenge tonight. But getting 9.5-points, I have no choice but to back the Thunder. If just for the fact that I know Russell Westbrook will leave every ounce of his soul on the court tonight. Even if this game gets a little out of control early, it is just too personal for Westbrook to quit. And when Russell Westbrook is on his best game, he is the most dominant force in the NBA, sorry Lebron.
I think the Warriors win, and fairly easily, but see Westbrook keeping this plenty close enough to cover the 9.5-points. Give me the Oklahoma City Thunder and a whole bunch of points tonight from Oracle Arena.