Inside the Scope: OKC Thunder (33-9) x GS Warriors (25-15)
- Tip Off: 7:30 p.m. (PT)
- Television: CSN-BA, NBA TV
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 110.4 (1st in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 100.1 (6th in NBA)
- Points: Kevin Durant, 29.5 PPG
- Rebounds: Serge Ibaka, 8.4 RPG
- Assists: Russell Westbrook, 8.2 APG
- Steals: Russell Westbrook, 1.9 SPG
- Blocks: Serge Ibaka, 2.8 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Nick Collison, 61.6% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Kevin Martin, 43.5% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Daily Thunder.
Preview: The Oklahoma City Thunder will be at Oracle Arena tonight to take on the Golden State Warriors after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers last night at Staples Center.
At present time, the Thunder might just be the best team in the league by virtue of their record and overall performance this year. Indeed, not only do they own the best record in the NBA, they also own a scoring differential of plus-nine (best in the league), which suggests they’ve been taking care of business against inferior competition.
They have three separate winning streaks of five games or more this season and recorded wins against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers (twice), Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets.
It goes without saying, Oklahoma City is a championship contender and may just be the favorite at present time to not only represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, but also win the whole thing.
The OKC Thunder are so difficult to match up with because on offense they have a four-headed monster that just shatters whatever defensive concepts teams choose to employ against them.
It obviously all starts with the ever-talented and quite honestly unstoppable scoring force that is Kevin Durant. The former Longhorn is simply the best scorer in the association at present time and may finish his career as the best point producer the league has ever seen.
Durant scores in a variety of ways that just leave head coaches scratching their heads. He does it by spotting up, off the dribble, on the block, off one foot, from mid-range, from long-range, at the rim with dunks or finger rolls and with floaters in the paint or from the baseline. And when all of those fail, he draws contact and steps up to the free throw line where he is automatic.
From there, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin are able to operate against single coverage because of all the attention that KD garners.
A Westbrook-Durant pick-and-roll will routinely create an advantageous and dangerous matchup for the Thunder, while running the Texas product off screens often results in the screener getting open because his man has to step up and temporarily help out on the scoring machine.
These situations coupled with Russell Westbrook’s explosive drives allow the likes of Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin to get open looks, which they routinely convert, hence putting enormous pressure on opposing defenses.
As great as Kevin Durant is though, he greatly benefits from having the UCLA product playing point guard on his team. Although many in the national media are quick to criticize Westbrook for occasionally being out of control, he is unquestionably the motor of the team given how his energy and reckless abandon often carry it.
In addition, the former Bruin is destructive in the pick-and-roll because of his speed and strength; he can simply turn the corner at ease or split the trap and attempt a jump shot or instead get into the paint and attack the basket and threaten the best shot blockers in the league with his incredible athleticism that allows him to finish over the top.
Put him next to Kevin Durant, and well the pair is just unstoppable. When we look at the top 250 pairings in the NBA in minutes so far this season, Durant and Westbrook are the fourth best scoring unit, posting 110.9 points per 48 minutes according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool. The top spot?
Owned by the tandem of Kevin Martin and Russell Westbrook.
Heck, the top four spots belong to pairings of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
I guess this just a fancy way of saying to expect Scott Brooks’ team to light up the scoreboard tonight.
Let’s see just how far the Warriors have truly come this season.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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