Tip Off: 7:30 PM (PST)

Projected Starters

Oklahoma City                                                                        Golden State

PG –  Russell Westbrook                                                     Stephen Curry

SG –   Thabo Sefolosha                                                         Monta Ellis

SF –   Kevin Durant                                                               Dorell Wright

PF –  Sege Ibaka                                                                    David Lee

C –      Kendrick Perkins                                                      Andris Biedrins

Scope the opposition: Get your Thunder fix at Daily Thunder.

Preview: For the second time in the last 10 days, the Golden State Warriors (8-13) will host the Oklahoma City Thunder (19-5) tonight at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are coming off a Saturday night overtime defeat at the hands of the Sacramento Kings a Arco Arena and will be looking for a different outcome this time around against the Thunder.

The last time we went Inside the Scope to discuss Oklahoma City, it was mentioned just how good their offense was. Indeed, the combination of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden is often too much for teams to handle given their athleticism, scoring prowess, and unselfishness.

When the Warriors and Thunder collided on January 27th, the trio proved to be downright unstoppable. Kevin Durant lit up the Dubs for 37 points on 12-for-24 field goal shooting while Russell Westbrook had 28 points on 10-for-20 shooting. The pair was terrific as usual but James Harden enhanced his odds of winning the 6th Man of the Year award by collecting 19 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field, sprinkled with five rebounds and two assists.

The Thunder are awfully tough to defend because of their ability to beat defenders off the dribble and get into the lane for scores. Indeed, in their first meeting, OKC was able to score a staggering 58 points in the paint against the Dubs and generate 37 free throws. They dominated the interior with their scoring but also collected 19 offensive rebounds at the expense of the Warriors.

If the Golden State Warriors want to be able to hang with the league leading Oklahoma City Thunder, they are going to have to be up for the physical challenge that Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins present in the paint.

David Lee, Andris Biedrins and Dominic McGuire may not be enforcers for the Dubs, but responding to OKC’s tough players will be a must in order to earn a victory. The OKC big men will not shy away from contact and thus neither should the Dubs’. They will have to fight for rebounding and post position in the paint and try to avoid fouling players; attempting instead to have them convert difficult shots at the basket.

In addition, given that OKC is a mediocre passing team, Golden State players should be ready to turn up the pressure and get into the passing lane to force turnovers and go the other way for easy scores. On January 27th, the Dubs forced the Thunder into 22 turnovers, which helped them score 25 fast break points.

In the same breath though, Mark Jackson’s unit will have to do a far better job of protecting the ball themselves to ensure they are not coughing it away to Brooks’ gang for easy scores much like in the first meeting when they lost the ball 20 times.

With OKC having played last night in Portland (in overtime no less), the Warriors should have more energy in this game and the home crowd will be an added benefit as well. But the Dubs backcourt needs to also start pulling their weight if this team is going to be successful.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at JM.Poulard@Warriorsworld.net.

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