The Oklahoma City Thunder upset the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors 108-102 on their home court in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. They did so with Kevin Durant coming up with a clutch basket in the final minute and Russell Westbrook scoring 27 points and the two combining for 53 points, but there was still plenty of room for improvement for each of the Thunder’s two biggest stars.

It was the defense of the Thunder that became the big story of the night in the series-opening victory. The Thunder held the Warriors to just 14 fourth-quarter points, and outscored the home team 61-42 in the second half to come back to win. It was not always pretty, though, especially when it came to Oklahoma City’s top players and their shooting. Durant took seven straight shots without making a basket at one point in the fourth quarter, but the one he finally drained turned out to be a clutch basket as the Thunder pushed their lead to five with 31 seconds remaining in the game. The former MVP went just 10-for-30 from the field on the night. Westbrook also had a tough time shooting against the Warriors; though he ended the night with a game-high 27 points, he was just 7-for-21 from the field, with 11 of his points coming from the free-throw line.

It was also a long night for the league’s current MVP, Steph Curry. Curry went just 9-for-22 with his shot attempts, and he ended the evening with 26 points in the loss. Considering he was draining threes with ease from the midcourt logo prior to the game, and knowing what he is capable of doing, it should not be expected he stays down like this for too long, though, unless he is being bothered by injury issues.

The same might be said for Durant and Westbrook. The Thunder may have escaped the first game of the Western Conference Finals with the win despite a tough shooting night from Durant and Westbrook, but just how many times can they afford to overcome a tough night from each? Slowing down the Warriors is no easy task, as they did not set the NBA single-season wins record by accident. If the Thunder are going to win the series, which in fairness they are fully capable of doing, they’ll probably have to avoid further sluggish shooting nights from Durant and Westbrook, especially on the same night. These Warriors are not likely to be held to 14 points a quarter again in this series.


About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.

Comments are closed.