There are the standard run-of-the-mill blowout losses that every team is susceptible to, and then there was the thorough and complete annihilation that the Thunder enacted on the Warriors in Game 3 on Sunday. OKC ran up and down the court at will, getting into the paint repeatedly for easy scores off transition as the Warriors offered little defensive resistance on the perimeter or near the rim. In the third quarter, Steve Kerr waived the white flag and subbed out Stephen Curry and Draymond Green for the remainder of the contest. The three had a front row view as the deficit ballooned to 41 points.
One silver lining from this game: a 28-point loss counts the same as a 1-point loss. If Golden State can manage a Game 4 victory on Tuesday, they will wrest back control of the series.
Here are 10 thoughts on the 133-105 demolition:
1. It would be easy look at the Warriors recent playoff history and say that they’ve been here before (down 2-1 deep in the playoffs against a quality team) and have the chops to battle back. But the sobering truth for Dubs fans is that this team has never been behind to a squad as talented and potent as the Thunder (last year’s broke-down Cavs team is nowhere near this level). OKC claims two All-NBA studs at the peak of their games and a supporting cast perfectly suited to match up with the Warriors’ run-and-gun style of basketball. Their excellent home crowd buoys the role players (Andre Roberson and Serge Ibaka shot 5-of-10 combined from threes) and Billy Donovan is getting the most out of the roster defensively (Warriors 41% shooting, 10-of-33 from beyond the arc). This series is the biggest test of the Steve Kerr-era Dubs and though they certainly aren’t out of this series, that they came out so flat in a desperation game is a little unsettling going forward.
2. A loss is always disappointing, especially from a 73-win team, but it’s the way the Warriors loss that truly astounds. The team didn’t play with any force or consistency and looked content to allow OKC to get all they could eat on the break. Gone was the Warriors’ smothering defense that cedes only calculated low-risk shots and in its place were silly reach-in fouls and slow runs back in transition. Offensively the Dubs lacked the poise they so often demonstrate under duress and for whatever reason they were content to continually jack long-range shots early in the shot clock (which only fed OKC’s game plan to score on the break). Game 3 was an inexplicably lackluster and panicked effort from the Warriors and I’m not sure how they fix it other than by playing harder.
3. Is that a viable strategy in the playoffs? To simply play harder?
4. Steph, Klay Thompson, and Draymond, three potential All-NBA players this season, were minus-39, minus-41 and minus-43, respectively. They shot a combined 16-of-45 with 8 turnovers.
5. Anderson Varejao decided it was a good idea to try and steal the ball from Russell Westbrook in the backcourt during the stretch when the game was still a game. He got whistled for a foul and Westbrook gladly shot two free throws. Someone please make the AV minutes go away. My eyes are starting to bleed.
6. The game was tied 40-40 with 8:37 to play in the second quarter. OKC went on a 77-40 run in the next 20 minutes.
7. I don’t think Dray’s kick warrants a suspension on its own (it looked like he was exaggerating contact to sell the call, a routine flail by NBA players), but if the league takes into account the incidental contact with Steven Adam’s lower region from the game before, losing Green for one game becomes a real possibility. (Which would make going down 3-1 almost inevitable).
8. Because the last two games have been decided well before the fourth quarter, Durant and Westbrook haven’t been taxed by heavy minutes. Should this series extend to six or seven, the Warriors won’t get to benefit from having a deeper bench and fresher starters. Just one more reason why blowouts are bad.
9. Golden State has lost all their Game 3s in the playoffs this year and are 2-5 in the third game of a series during the Steve Kerr era. They are 5-1 in that same span in Game 4s. They have yet to lose back-to-back contests this season.
10. For all the doom and gloom following this game, if the Warriors can manage a victory in Game 4, they would have home court advantage in a best-of-three series. Can they do it? Remember: it wasn’t that long ago that a team was torched on the road only to come roaring back to win the series (these very same Thunder just did that versus the Spurs).