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Can Thunder Defeat the Warriors?

Posted by Jay Sanin on 5/15/2016 4:35:05 AM

After defying the odds and ripping off three straight wins to eliminate the mighty San Antonio Spurs, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves back in the Western Conference Finals. Their opponent is the even mightier Golden State Warriors, who are looking to complete a historic season in their own right. Can the Thunder find a way to pull another upset and get back to the NBA Finals?

Durant and Westbrook

For the Thunder to have any success in the Western Conference Finals, they are going to have to rely heavily on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, both of whom are elite players in the NBA. We all know that they are great scorers, but they will have to step up defensively to guard Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, all of whom can make Oklahoma City pay to the point where odds calculators wouldn't be able to keep up with the long odds against OKC if the Thunder aren't careful.

Also, Durant and Westbrook will need to do a good job of getting their teammates involved offensively. It's difficult to do that late in games when they are clearly the two best offensive players on the floor for their team, but not only would this practice make their teammates more confident for big moments, but it would also make it so that the offense is less predictable when the team needs a bucket most.

The Other Guys

For the Thunder to have any shot at success in this series, their players other than Durant and Westbrook need to be great to keep up with the insane depth of the Warriors. It starts on the interior in this case, as Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka need to outperform Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green. Adams has been vital on the offensive glass for OKC this postseason, but Ibaka will be pulled out of position to guard Green in a lot of cases, which could be a problem for the Thunder if he doesn't react to it well. Guards Dion Waiters and Anthony Roberson also need to play well, something that has been far from a given with each of them this season.


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