On the latest episode of The Weekly, the Topic: Thunder crew discuss the following topics:
Hooking up the TiVo – Recapping the three games last week (vs. Phoenix, vs. NY, @Phoenix)
Discussing the Warriors drama
KD2OKC???? Maybe??? How????
The Jimmy Butler trade
Nerd Alert – Comparing the Thunder players to the different houses on Harry Potter
Thunder Forecast – Looking forward to the Thunder’s next four games (@Sacramento, @Golden State, vs. Charlotte, and vs. Denver)
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Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Line: GS -13.0 | O/U: 220.5
Even with the uncertainty surrounding Andre Roberson’s recovery from patella tendon surgery and Russell Westbrook’s recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery, there’s a sense of calm as the Oklahoma City Thunder embark on the 2018-19 season. Over the past three seasons, the beginning of the season has usually been accompanied with the unknown dread associated with the upcoming free agency decisions of key players on the team. Continue reading Thunder vs. Warriors preview (Game 1 of 82)→
On Thursday morning, two-time NBA champion David West announced his retirement from the NBA. West retires from the game as a two-time All Star, with per game averages of 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds. His ability to step out and hit the mid-range jumper, while also being a banger in the post became the archetype for big men in this pace and space era of today’s NBA.
West will likely be remembered for his time with the Indiana Pacers or the Golden State Warriors. But it’s where he started his career that has the most impact for Oklahomans. While Chris Paul was Oklahoma City’s first superstar, West was OKC’s first cult hero. Take the first eight seasons of Russell Westbrook (the ultimate sidekick) and merge those with the no-nonsense play of Nick Collison, and you had David West to a tee. Continue reading Thank you, David West→
Chris Mannix (The Vertical) on what pushes Paul George: “You need special talent to build championship teams,” George said. “It’s no secret. You feel more comfortable out there when you have guys who can play at the same level, who can play at a high level, play with high energy as well. I’m not going to be perfect every night. But to have a guy that can play at that same level that I can some nights, that I can benefit from, is a luxury. Look at Russ — the guy averaged a triple-double and had a hard time getting [in] the playoffs. It’s just hard to do in this day and age. That was one of the hardest things for me in Indy. I wanted to be there, I wanted to stay there so much. It just didn’t seem like we were going to get to that level, of having high-level talent to win a championship.”
“I’m coming! I’m coming!” A simple exchange in what was basically a blowout in February, set the stage for what we’ve seen this offseason from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder could not do anything when Kevin Durant left them on July 4th, 2016. By the time he made his decision, most of the top notch free agents were already off the board. Instead, the Thunder strategized from that point forward and hoped opportunities would arise from a turbulent NBA landscape. And arise they did.
The summer of 2016 basically set the stage for what happened in Oklahoma City this offseason. When every team was infused with an extra 20 million, moves were made that were almost immediately regretted once the ink dried on those contracts. Finding an extra $20 million in your team’s salary cap is like finding $1000 in between your couch cushions. Some people will make wise decisions with that extra money. But others will treat it like house money and YOLO the hell out of it. Many teams made bad decisions that summer that eventually led to their salary caps being tied up for the next 2-4 seasons. Continue reading “I’m coming!” – The two words that galvanized a franchise.→
I feel like I’m writing these types of articles at least once a week. Not that I’m complaining. There was once a time when the Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t even mentioned in the same breath when discussing names like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. But the Golden State Warriors have gone all Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on the NBA and flipped things upside down. In order to combat that, the big names of the game are figuring out, in order to compete against the Dubs, they will likely have to join forces together.
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated is the premier basketball writer of his time. If there is a big story to tell, Jenkins is probably the one telling it. His stories are bits and pieces of not only the player, but also the people around said player. His articles are about as insider as they come; like a literal reality show. Don’t get him confused with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Jenkins isn’t in the business to break news, he’s in it to the tell the story behind the breaking news.
When Jenkins speaks, it’s certainly not off the cuff. There is a lot of contexture behind his statements, especially when he says something that may be considered “breaking news”. He gets an insider’s view into a lot of the players’ lives, and with that, probably a lot of one on one time when the cameras aren’t on. Players tend to relax a little bit when the cameras aren’t focused on them. To say that Jenkins may “know” a player is probably understating it. Continue reading How the Warriors may force LeBron James to Oklahoma City.→
Most games in the regular season are not must-wins. Teams battling for the 8th spot in their respective conferences at the end of the season face must-win games. Teams on the brink of elimination in the playoffs face must-win games. But games in December can rarely be labeled must-win games. Even if the Thunder lose tonight, they are still well on pace to get into the playoffs comfortably. So while it isn’t a must-win game, it definitely is a “want to”-win game. After starting the season off in shambles due to injuries, it sure would be nice to send a message to the rest of the league that we are back.
This is the second of four meetings between the Thunder and Golden State Warriors. The under-manned Thunder played the Warriors valiantly in their first meeting, losing 91-86. That is the lowest point total the Warriors have been held to all season.
The Golden State Warriors currently sit perched atop of the rest of the league with a 21-3 record. After winning 16 in a row, the Warriors lost their last game to the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis. First year head coach Steve Kerr has jumped out to the best 24 game start to begin a coach career in league history. The Warriors rank in the top 10 in most major statistical categories. Their defense is predicated on blowing up pick and rolls and forcing you to take mid-range shots early in the shot clock. On offense, the shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (or the fear of them shooting) creates a ton of space for them to do their work and for others to get open. The Splash Brothers are currently averaging 45.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 10.9 assists, and 3.2 steals per game on 46.6/41.0/89.5% shooting splits combined. This backcourt is highly efficient and each player is capable of exploding for 35+ points on any given night. Because of David Lee’s injury and Andre Iguadola’s move to the bench, Kerr has been going with Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green at the forward spots. Barnes plays more of the small forward role, while Green has been a terror as an undersized stretch-4. Both players are shooting over 35% from deep this season. Up front, Festus Ezeli mans the middle in place of the injured Andrew Bogut. Off the bench, the aforementioned Iguadola, Marreese Speights, and Shaun Livingston give the Warriors a veteran reserve bunch that will not lose them many games.
Probable Starting Line-ups
Golden State Warriors
PG – Steph Curry
SG – Klay Thompson
SF – Harrison Barnes
PF – Draymond Green
C – Festus Ezeli
Oklahoma City Thunder
PG – Russell Westbrook
SG – Andre Roberson
SF – Kevin Durant
PF – Serge Ibaka
C – Steven Adams
3 Keys to the Game
1. Transition Defense – There’s a reason why the Warriors are No. 1 in the league in pace: their fast breaks don’t have to go all the way to the rim. The Warriors are just as happy shooting up 30 footers while the defense is getting set back up as they are gliding in for lay-ups. It’ll be extremely important for the Thunder to get back on defense as quickly as possible to contest anything from Curry and Thompson.
2. Match-up Landmines – The first match-up problem I see is Ibaka vs. Green. It would almost be better for the Thunder to go small from the beginning with Ibaka as the 5 and Perry Jones getting minutes at forward. Another match-up nightmare is Kendrick Perkins vs. Speights. This manifested itself the last time these two teams played, as Speights went off for 28 points off the bench on an array of mid-range jumpers against the slower Perkins. Another match-up problem could be Reggie Jackson vs. Livingston. Livingston has made a career of taking small pg’s down on the block due to his height advantage.
3. Sit back and enjoy – If you are a fan of basketball, these last two nights have been great. The Warriors/Grizzlies match-up on Tuesday was good and the triple-overtime thriller between the Grizzlies and Spurs last night was even better. But if you remember back to the first two games the Thunder and Warriors played last season, then you already have a blueprint as to how tonight might play out.