(1) Golden State Warriors (73-9)
(3) Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
You couldn’t ask for a better match up than this. During the season, these two gave us possibly the game of the year, a 121-118 Overtime Warriors victory that led to a Mike Breen bangasm…
Despite Mike Breen’s best efforts to ruin it by yelling “BANG”, this was one of the most indelible moments of the 2015-16 season. The other games between these two were also close down the stretch, but the Warriors were able to pull away from the Thunder in the fourth quarter. Will this series be any different?
I think this series will be different. The Thunder figured themselves out in their series against the Spurs, and it took them to a new level. Russell Westbrook started looking to get his teammates involved more often, and everybody benefited as a result, and they won three straight against the 67-win Spurs to close out the series. It’s the way we’ve always wanted Westbrook, and the Thunder as a whole, to play, and it had a devastating effect. Now, they’re up against a 73-win team, but if they can keep up their new approach, they should have more than a fighting chance.
The Warriors are coming off a 4-1 Semifinals victory over the Trail Blazers that was a lot more competitive than it seems. Portland gave Golden State all that they could handle. Yes, Steph Curry was out for the first three games of the series, but the ones in which he did play were the most competitive. The Warriors needed Overtime in Game 4, and Game 5 also went right down to the wire. It’s not like Steph Curry was rusty, either. He averaged 34.5 points and shot 50% over the two games he played against them. I think we can all agree that the Thunder are a better team than the Blazers, and on top of that, Warriors center Andrew Bogut is dealing with an injury, and is questionable for tonight’s Game 1. I’m not saying the Warriors are fucked by any means, I’m just saying that this is going to be a tougher battle than they’ve faced in the Playoffs so far, and a different and better Thunder team than they’ve faced in the regular season.
What we have here is two of the most exciting and explosive teams in the NBA, and they’re about to square off with a trip to the Finals on the line. The Warriors are a proud bunch, intent on defending their title, with the added pressure of living up to their historic regular season. The Thunder have been around even longer, and this is their fourth trip to the Conference Finals in the last six years. They’ve always been a team of lofty expectations that have never quite been met. Both of these teams play with an angry chip on their shoulder, so this one’s going to come down with who channels that angry energy better, and which one of these teams wants it more.
Prediction: Thunder (4-2)
Yeah, I said it! I have a feeling about the Thunder. The way they evolved during that Spurs series tells me that they’re taking it to another level in a special way. Prepare for all hopes and dreams of you team signing away Kevin Durant to be dashed. Yes, I realize that I just picked the Thunder to defeat a 73-win team after eliminating a 67-win team, which would be unprecedented, but, like I said, I think something special is going on with OKC, and pulling that off would be pretty damn special.