Things just got a little bit more interesting as the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder took to the hardwood for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Yes, the Warriors had the homecourt advantage. Yes, they were the (all-time) best team of the regular season. Yes, they had their eyes on a quick series as they headed to yet another NBA Finals appearance. Ah, but as they say “the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” The Thunder duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shook off a slow first-half start and managed to carry their team to a 102-108 victory. This clearly will not be a walk in the park for the Warriors, who are after back-to-back titles. If anything they should gather themselves after this loss and be careful to not get mugged as they stroll through said park.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan made the right call in deciding to stick with his big men on the floor instead of matching up with Golden State’s small-ball lineup. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter rewarded him for his trust and Oklahoma City dominated the boards, limiting the Warriors’ second-chance points. The blue shirts outrebounded their hosts 44-52. Three of their starters ended the game with scoring and rebounding double-doubles. It was the grit and tenacity of Durant and Westbrook that led the Thunder. They finished the game with 26 and 27 points, respectively. Westbrook added 12 assists and seven steals. It was his explosion in the second half that allowed his team to rally back from a 13-point deficit to eventually come away with the win.
Regular season M.V.P. awardee Stephen Curry ended the game with 26 points and 10 rebounds. He did, however, commit seven turnovers as the Thunder defense did its best to deny him any open looks.
There was an “issue” about a non-call of a traveling violation committed by Westbrook in the dying minutes of the game. Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr decided to shrug it off.
“I didn’t talk to the refs about it,” said Kerr, who crouched in front of McCutchen with an incredulous smirk on his face after the play. “I thought he walked, but it wasn’t called, so that’s the way it goes.”
Kerr is now keenly focused on adjustments his team needs to make in Game 2. The Thunder took Game 1 on grit and good defense. Will the Warriors bounce back and take Game 2 or will the Thunder get to pad their advantage?