First things first, I agree with Zach:
Last night’s Warriors-Thunder game, the season’s first meeting between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, was an insanely entertaining blowout.
The Warriors, as they likely will many times this season, simply overwhelmed the Thunder with their superior talent. You never want to balance arguments too heavily on blowouts, and it needs to be said that the Thunder were coming off a hard-fought road win over the Clippers the night before (please, please end back-to-backs), but I had a few takeaways.
Sometimes Brothers Fight
Russ showed up to the arena like this:
Kevin Durant got dunked on and it awoke something inside him. He got more aggressive on both sides of the ball and was surprisingly eager to jaw at the Thunder bench.
We should note that Westbrook and Durant didn’t exactly jaw at each other, but there was certainly a palpable tension. It was downright weird to see them each block each others shots.
The Thunder Offense Relies So Much on Westbrook and Adams
The Thunder spent much of the first quarter running their most basic and destructive set, a Westbrook-Steven Adams pick-and-roll. It’s very difficult to stop- Russ is a freight train and Adams excels as a roll man. Adams even showed off a nifty floater that you wouldn’t expect from someone so physical. It helped the Thunder open a 10-point advantage early in the opening frame.
But the Warriors got more disciplined and took another step closer to the hoop, walling off the paint. The Thunder simply do not have enough shooting to put around Westbrook and Adams. Until they add a shooter Billy Donovan trusts or Victor Oladipo takes a step forward, Westbrook is going to have to continue to shoot 30+ times a game.
Jerami Grant Is Not the Answer
The Thunder traded for Grant earlier in the week and, while they didn’t give up a whole lot (a 2020 1st rounder, protected 1-20) to get him, I’m not sure he can help them. Grant is a freak athlete, but he can’t shoot at all. He isn’t the kind of off-ball cutter Andre Roberson is and lacks Roberson’s defensive smarts as well. I’m not sure where he fits or if he makes the Thunder any better.
The Warriors’ Avalanches of Points Are Better Than Ever
The most terrifiyingly beautiful thing about the Warriors is their ability to turn a four-point deficit into a 10-point lead in what feels like the blink of an eye. That ability is quickly reaching new heights with Kevin Durant (I know, I’m shocked too).
After Grant put Durant on a few posters, Golden State responded as only they can.
Granted, as Tim went on to point out, Westbrook was on the bench for a significant portion of that time. But the Warriors got a Steph-splosion against Portland on Tuesday and the one from Durant last night might have been even more impressive.
These teams are set to face off again on January 18th at Oracle Arena. I’m looking forward to it already.