How does Draymond Green affect the warriors
Little warriors, big thunder
In the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors with MVP Stephen Curry will meet the Oklahoma City Thunder around Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Is Small Ball the Solution? What is important in the series? And who will prevail? SPOX does the check.
Golden State Warriors (1) - Oklahoma City Thunder (3)
Season balance: 3-0
Initial situation: The fact that the Warriors would move into the Conference Finals was not a too daring statement before the start of the postseason. But Stephen Curry's injury changed the signs - actually. Without the MVP on the court, a team should normally be weaker, but the rest of the Golden State crew absorbed Curry's failure impressively.
After the Rockets went on vacation, Portland felt how well the Dubs system worked, even when the best player wasn't there. The incredible comeback of Curry established Golden State again as a top favorite and Steph used the five-day break to regenerate and improve his stamina. He seems to be completely fit.
Not many observers had believed Oklahoma City after the bumpy series against the Mavs, meanwhile, to throw the Spurs out in the conference semifinals, but after six games the Thunder were certain as the winner. Mainly thanks to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, of course.
KD put 28.5 points at 50 percent out of the field, 6.7 rebounds and 4 assists in the series, RW0 got 25.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 10.5 assists. Only its quota of 37.6 percent still has significant room for improvement.
The star potential of the series knows no bounds: Curry, Westbrook and Durant won six of the last seven scoring crowns, with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green two other current all-stars on the floor. Nine of the ten starters were drafted by their teams themselves or acquired on draft night, the only exception being Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks).
Both offensive departments are excellent, which is also proven by the respective offensive ratings (Warriors: 114.5, Thunder: 113.1). The combined value of both teams reached a sensational 227.6 - the highest offensive rating for a playoff matchup since 1997. At that time, Michael Jordans Bulls dueled with the Utah Jazz for John Stockton and Karl Malone.
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Golden State won all three games of the season, but OKC was always in the front in the final quarter or at least had equalized in the meantime. The Dubs managed a strong final spurt each time, which ensured victory twice directly and once after extra time.
In the conference semis, head coach Billy Donovan had Steven Adams and Enes Kanter often play in parallel in contrast to the regular season, which gave the Thunder clear advantages in rebounding. Especially against the small ball lineup of the Warriors, this could be an exciting variant - and possibly a recipe for success.
Key matchup: Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook. In the regular season, Westbrook usually took on Curry - if the two coaches play along, we also see an electrifying duel between the two best development players in the league in the postseason.
The playing styles could hardly be more different: on the one hand, dribbling artist Curry, who can hit from all positions on the court, on the other hand, athletic beast and fastbreak executor Westbrook.
The matchup will mainly be seen in the attacks of the warriors. It is quite possible that Steve Kerr will defensive Klay Thompson against Westbrook, who often makes short work of smaller opponents like Curry. The main focus of both defensives is clearly on the ball handlers who will set the tone and pace of the series.
X Factor: Harrison Barnes. The Warriors' winger has been playing below his potential in the playoffs so far. The harder the tasks get, the more the team needs him. After a very weak streak against the Rockets, Barnes improved a bit against the Blazers, but his three-point is still not constant (25 percent).
He is the man who has to transform the open throws when Curry and Thompson mess up the Thunder defense or when they are doubled. With Bogut or Ezeli on the field, the Warriors already miss an offensive threat. Especially in this line-up, more has to come from Barnes to give the stars the necessary freedom. Not to mention that he will probably face at least some of Durant's defense.
SPOX forecast: The Thunders' defensive performance against San Antonio was surprisingly good, but it is unlikely that OKC can repeat that against the much more dynamic Warriors. Conversely, the Dubs have three strong defenders in Green, Barnes and Thompson and a capable rim protector in Bogut, although the Aussie is probably not quite fit yet. That combination should make life difficult enough for KD and Russ to make it to the Finals again. Wins in an epic duel Golden State in 6.
The playoffs at a glance
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