The defending champions, Golden State Warriors are one step closer to getting back to the NBA finals for the second consecutive year. Significantly, the Warriors gained a familiar face back on the team last series and his name is Stephen Curry who came back in tremendous style, seemingly breaking Trail Blazers fans hopes single-handily to end the series.
Coming off an exciting 4-1 series win against a young, but dangerous Portland Trail Blazers team they will now be shifting their focus to the task at hand, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the threat they pose. The Warriors took care of business in the three regular season games they faced against the Thunder and will most certainly be confident going into the series. Three factors to look forward to for Golden State will be to see if Steph Curry can maintain his outstanding play although not being at a hundred percent just yet, keeping Durant and Westbrook at bay, and letting the depth of their team show throughout the course of the series.
A Healthy Steph Curry
Although yes, Steph Curry has played fantastic and significant minutes in the first two games since his return, it does not mean he is at 100% percent, and it will be interesting to see if his health becomes a non-factor during the course of a potentially long series. If Curry continues to shoot the way he has been shooting in his second consecutive MVP campaign then it is going to be hard to give the advantage to anyone, but the Warriors. Golden State gains extra fuel behind Curry’s supernatural and unparalleled shooting ability. Especially if he gets going like he did in the span of a 5 minute overtime period scoring 17 points en route to a Game 4 win over the Trail Blazers. The Thunder will need to figure out some way to neutralize his shooting if they want to have any success. Which at the end of the day is easier said than done, as we basketball fans have learned.
Shutting Down Durant and Westbrook
Golden State, just like any championship team, is a solid defensive team and they are going to keep on displaying their defensive prowess to keep both Durant and Westbrook quiet. Durant and Westbrook are the heart and soul of OKC so if they cannot get going offensively then someone else is going to have to step up, but it is yet to be seen who that can be at a consistent basis. The Warriors have a player in Draymond Green who is versatile on both ends of the court, and that can definitely cause a bother to Durant with his physical play. They have the players to slow the dynamic duo down but whether they can consistently do so will be seen in the series. We all know that Durant and Westbrook are incredibly immense talents and if they are firing on all cylinders then it is going to be an exciting series to watch as they compete against a stacked Warriors team.
Golden State’s Depth
The Warriors have a solid depth of squad with the likes of finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, and Marreese Speights all coming off the bench and contributing. We’ll have to see how the Thunder bench matches up because they will have a problem if they cannot compete with the bench of the Warriors. The advantage at the moment goes to the Warriors bench, and if they play as good as they have been playing, then it will potentially blow the series open with the likes of Durant and Westbrook getting rest while the bench plays. Finally, let me not forget to mention the second half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson. He is a proven shooter just like Curry and can light it up from the three-point line if he gets going. So the Thunder need to be careful how they defend the Warriors and whom they decide to leave open if they are giving all the attention to Curry.