The Golden State Warriors, at one point, were down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and their chances to return to the NBA finals appeared slim. But, two elimination games later, the series has been levelled at 3-3 going into Monday’s Game 7 at Oracle Arena. Not only did the Warriors tie up the series, but they also hold the home court advantage in the crucial last game of the series. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder still, of course, hold a chance to advance to their first finals appearance since their move to Oklahoma City.
The Thunder seemed to have the series wrapped up after dismantling the defending champions at home in Games 4 and 5. After being given little to no chance to beat the Warriors by the media before the start of the series, the team earned the respect of the sports world. Although, only short lived, as now the Thunder are being scrutinized for not closing out the series at home despite holding a 4th quarter lead in a crucial Game 6. Yet, the matter of the fact is that they remain in the series and hold a solid chance to represent the West in the finals.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook headlined the talking points in postgame reactions after Saturday’s Game 6. Many say they choked down the stretch and simply did not come through for the team when they needed them most. The assessment is fair, given the fact that both struggled with their shot late in the game and most notably, Westbrook turned the ball over four times within the last two minutes of the game. Prior to those last crucial minutes, Westbrook had only one turnover.
Their focus is now on redemption and the struggles of Game 6 can be forgotten if Durant and Westbrook can carry the Thunder to victory in Game 7. The Thunder are more than capable of pulling off what would be called an upset in Game 7 given the fact that the momentum has shifted to the Warriors and are at home. Let’s not forget, the Warriors lost their home court advantage at the start of the series in Game 1. The Thunder clearly know the formula for winning against the Warriors, already having three wins and only needing that one last, precious victory.
With the Warriors faithful behind their team it will be difficult to completely shutdown Klay Thompson and Steph Curry but, if they are able to do so they will be in good shape. Especially, if they prohibit both from going off on one of their unstoppable shooting steaks throughout the game. The shooting ability of the Splash Brothers can entirely kill off any hope of a team winning therefore it will be extremely important for the Thunder to stay focused. Furthermore, continuing to neutralize Draymond Green, much like they have for most of the series will give them a solid opportunity to pull off the win.
The season is on the line on Monday, so the Thunder will be looking for their superstar duo to lead the way. Durant and Westbrook will absolutely need to show up in the biggest game of their careers or risk embarrassment in the win or go home game. Both players need to set the tempo early on with no fear of the big moment and basically leaving it all out on the floor for the entire 48 minutes. No other choice if they are to have the chance to win.