Do the Warriors Have a Kryptonite?
Could the Oklahoma City Thunder be the Golden State Warriors biggest threat at a title? Could they beat the Warriors in a 7 game series? Do they present matchup problems like no other team? The answer to all of these questions is, YES.
First, we must get past last night and the meltdown the Thunder had in Los Angeles. Oklahoma City has two of the top 5 scorers in basketball. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are a matchup nightmare for every opponent they face. Westbrook is the most athletic player in the league and Durant is a four-time scoring champ and MVP. Westbrook led the league in scoring last year without Durant. That is some major firepower. The scary part is, both are in their primes and at their peak levels. No team in the league matches up well with these two players. Their supporting cast has to step up, which is difficult at times with the volume of shots these two command. So how can the Thunder beat the Warriors in 7 games?
Well, it will not be easy. If the Warriors win tonight, they could go 41-0 at home. They could win 75 games. They could go back-to-back for titles. They have the MVP. But, the Thunder have two dynamos who can flat out get buckets. The Warriors do a great job against LeBron in forcing him into tough shots. Durant, however, is a different story. As great as Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green are, Durant lights up the Warriors seemingly every time they meet. As the old saying goes, “you cannot stop him, you can only hope to contain him.” Westbrook presents a huge problem as well. Nobody in the league is as fast or as quick as he is. Steph Curry has become a better defender, but cannot stay in front of him. Klay Thompson, who uses his length and good positioning against most guys, cannot stay with him. If Westbrook and Durant are clicking, they can beat the Warriors.
One thing OKC can do with the Warriors that most teams cannot do, is they can run out a lot of guys with a fairly deep bench. The problem they have is consistency. Dion Waiters is a ticking time bomb and Enes Kanter is a parking cone on defense. If these guys are not scoring, they are in trouble. The starters are already poor defensively. This group is really bad. If they can provide consistency, it give them an equal playing field with the Warriors bench unit. Most teams cannot match the bench depth of Golden State, but the Thunder can if they are playing well.
The Thunder cannot rely on just two guys, no matter how great they are. They need Serge Ibaka to step up, Steven Adams to play solid D and Andre Roberson or Waiters to guard Thompson and hit some shots. There are a lot of things that must go right for the Thunder to beat the Warriors in the playoffs. One major thing is, they must get past the Spurs just to get to the Warriors. San Antonio is having an all-time great season as well, but the Thunder have proven before they can beat them in the playoffs. Are the Thunder the favorites to win the title? No, but do not be surprised if they make a run at it.