The atmosphere won’t be nearly as hostile with Kevin Durant sidelined by a knee injury, but the Golden State Warriors still won’t be welcomed when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. The NBA-best Warriors only recently look like they’ve figured out how to win without Durant and will try to find a way to stop Thunder star Russell Westbrook.
Durant tilted the balance of power in the NBA when he decided to leave Oklahoma City and head to Golden State last summer, and the Thunder fans expressed their displeasure when the Warriors visited the first time on Feb. 11. Golden State breezed to a 130-114 win in that game and took each of the first three meetings this season by double digits, with Durant averaging 37.7 points. The Warriors are a different team without Durant in the lineup, however, and Oklahoma City enters the Monday meeting playing some of its best basketball of the season with five straight wins sparked by averages of 26.6 points, 14.4 assists and 10.8 rebounds from Westbrook in that span. Golden State dropped five of seven games after Durant went down but has since won three in a row while Stephen Curry slowly regained his MVP form.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (55-14): Curry went 18-of-76 from 3-point range over a seven-game span before sitting out a loss at San Antonio on March 11 and finally found his shooting stroke in the second half of a 106-104 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday. Curry followed that up with an 8-of-15 effort from the field against Orlando on Thursday before burying 6-of-8 3-pointers in a 117-92 drubbing of Milwaukee on Saturday, including a pull-up from just inside the half court logo that reminded the fans of similar shots from his MVP seasons. “Soon as I got the rebound, Shaun (Livingston) was telling me 2-for-1 and I kind of zeroed in a spot I wanted to pull up from with the time that was on the clock and the difference between shot clock and game clock and it worked out,” Curry told reporters of the deep 3-pointer.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (40-29): Oklahoma City is fighting with the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 5 spot in the West and sits a half-game back - tied in the loss column. Westbrook had a streak of four straight triple-doubles come to an end when he was held to 28 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds on Saturday in a 110-94 win over Sacramento and got a boost off the bench from small forward Doug McDermott, who scored 21 points - his most since joining the team at the trade deadline - on 8-of-9 shooting. “Credit the coaching staff here that I’ve been working with every morning before practice and after practice,” McDermott told reporters. “I just have to continue to get better.”
1. Thunder C Steven Adams collected 16 points and 13 rebounds on Saturday for his first double-double since Feb. 26.
2. Warriors SG Klay Thompson is 13-of-24 from 3-point range over the last three games.
3. Durant is expected to travel with Golden State to Oklahoma City and Dallas to continue his rehab.
PREDICTION: Warriors 121, Thunder 116