The Western Conference Finals move on to game 6, which can go in the obvious, two ways: The Oklahoma City Thunder returning to the NBA Finals, or the Golden State Warriors forcing a game 7.
So after we got through with the Magic Johnson type of wisdom, on to the actual game: Is it simply a battle of scoring between Stephen Curry and whoever is dragged along with him and the Russell Westbrook & Kevin Durant duo? No, that’s not the story. Draymond Green returning to form and being more of a force on both ends of the floor would mean a lot. Andrew Bogut and Steven Adams, whoever plays the better game, also makes a huge difference.
From Billy Donovan, it’s all about focusing on this game as if it’s the most important thing in the world. The Thunder don’t go home if they lose game 6, they’re simply forced into a game 7. But not winning this one will be an incredible opportunity lost, and maybe something the Thunder won’t be able to bounce back from.
We’ve got to play the 48 minutes. That’s really what it comes down to. You can get caught up in thinking about the future and what the results mean at the end of the game. But the bottom line is the result at the end of the game will happen, and what you don’t want to do is be focused on the result and forget to do your job during the course of 48 minutes. There have been some games in this series where we’ve done a really good job, and there are some games we need to do a better job. I’ve said this during the course of the season: you’ve got to be intentional about what you’re doing. We’ll have to go back and start over and understand that that’s really, and has always been in this series, a very, very important ingredient for both teams.
The Warriors and Steve Kerr always transmit calmness and confidence, but there’s no doubt this series has shaken them in a way. Kerr doesn’t sound defeatist, but perhaps he’s preparing everyone for the Warriors not making the NBA finals.
Our guys have had a spectacular run here the last two years. They’ve loved every second of it. They don’t want it to end, and no matter how you look at it, if you’re not the last team standing, it’s tough. It’s a disappointing way to go out. So we want to hang in there. We want to win the next two and get back to the finals.
A lot of this series has come down to rebounding. The Thunder have size and length that bother the Warriors all over the floor. In their three wins, Oklahoma City outrebounded Golden State. In the Warriors two wins, they were either tied or won the rebounding battle. Often rebounding is an overrated stat, but in this series, it usually means whether the Thunder were once again able to dominate under the basket, or were the Warriors defending right, and keeping their big players near the rim.
More than anything, the Warriors can’t come out flat. The Thunder have figured out how to slow down three point barrages, and without that weapon, it’s hard for the Warriors to respond when Oklahoma City come out of the gate breathing fire, especially Westbrook. That is what happened in games 3 & 4 of this series, and another terrible start, that includes getting beaten up physically everywhere, is something Golden State won’t be able to bounce back from, even in win-or-go-home game.