In most seven-game series, the story lines from game to game change. This is especially true when the two teams have great players. So far, the Western Conference Finals have been a tale of two storylines and two games.
Game 1 saw the Thunder take advantage of a poor fourth quarter from the Warriors in route to a 108-102 Oklahoma City victory. Game two, Steph Curry showed exactly why he is the reigning two-time MVP and the Warriors showed why they are the reigning, defending NBA Champions, winning 118-91. Now the two times will have four days to figure out where to go from here.
Oklahoma City essentially stole Game 1, as the Warriors didn’t play good in the fourth quarter and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 17-51 from the floor. Curry shot 1-4 in the fourth quarter and there was a slew of sloppy turnovers from both Curry and Klay Thompson.
Durant finished 10-30 from the floor scoring 26 point and Westbrook led the way with 27 points on 7-21 shooting to go along with 12 assists, 7 steals and a 19-point third quarter. Westbrook was also involved in a crucial play down the stretch, as he traveled clear as day in front of the ref when he dragged his pivot foot, but the referee awarded him a timeout. The Thunder held a 105-102 lead with 17 seconds left at this point. Steven Adams contributed with a quality game of 16 points and 12 rebounds while Serge Ibaka had 11 point and 11 rebounds. Dion Waiters had 10 points off the bench.
The Warriors squandered a 14-point lead and it cost them. Curry finished with 26 points and a playoff career-high 10 rebounds to go with 7 assists. Klay Thompson had 25 points on 11-25 shooting and did not hit in the fourth quarter. Draymond Green added 23 points of his own and Harrison Barnes found his confidence again, scoring 12 points.
The Thunder won the rebound battle 52-44 and also committed three less turnovers than the Warriors.
Some questioned whether or not the Warriors would recover from the Game 1 loss. For those that thought this team was in serious trouble following Game 1 clearly haven’t watched this team play much. Golden State is now 12-0 this season, including the playoffs, after a loss.
Curry was back to his MVP-self and scored 28 points on 9-15 shooting and 5-8 from three. He even went on a critical 15-2 personal run in about a two-minute span in the third quarter. This was after he leapt into the stands after a loose ball and came up with a big knot on his elbow, which is said to be a non-issue.
Thompson followed him up with 15 points. Marreese Speights scored 13 off the bench, Andre Iguodala scored 14 points including an acrobatic shot off the glass in the second quarter. Barnes contributed 11 points and Green had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
Golden State ended the first half on an 8-0 run to take a 55-47 lead and won the battle of the boards 45-36, including a 15-7 on the offensive end.
Durant led the way for the Thunder in Game 2, scoring a game-high 29 points on 11-18 shooting. However, he scored just six points after halftime. Westbrook, who was the only other Thunder player to score in double-figures, had 16 points and 12 assists, but shot 5-14 from the field. Oklahoma City shot 8-17 from beyond the arc in Game 1, but only connected on 7 of 23 triples in Game 2. Adams didn’t have a bad game, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The same cannot be said of Ibaka, who finished with three points and eight rebounds and shot 1-6 from the field.
The story coming out of Game 1 was how the Warriors would respond. Now, after Game 2, the story is about how the Thunder will recover. Game 3 is Sunday, so both sides have plenty of time to game plan and strategize or the pivotal contest. For the Warriors, they just have to make sure that Curry gets any and all treatment he needs for his elbow. For the Thunder, they will have to figure out a way to prevent the game from getting out of hand and to get more guys involved in the scoring column. Or if Durant and Westbrook are going to do the bulk of the scoring, like they normally do, Billy Donovan has to consider playing them the entire second half.
This star-studded series is all tied up after the first two games, something basketball fans everywhere can get behind. This series will most certainly increase from an intensity standpoint, which will make it that much more exciting and compelling.