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Warriors-Thunder Game 2 Preview

The Thunder upset the Warriors in Game 1. Now, the Warriors enter Game 2 with a must-win mentality.

Moke Hamilton

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All of a sudden, one has to at least begin to wonder whether the Oklahoma City Thunder can improbably win the Western Conference. After beating the San Antonio Spurs twice on the road, the Thunder stole Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals from the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. What’s disconcerting for the Warriors is that the Thunder managed to pull the game out despite Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combining to shoot just 17-for-51 from the field. Dion Waiters continued his strong play off the bench while Steven Adams turned in a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double.

For the Warriors, Game 1 was mostly about offensive ineptitude. They shot 11-for-30 from the three-point line, had some costly turnovers and were undisciplined on the offensive side of the ball when the game was in the balance.

Last season, en route to winning the 2015 NBA Finals, the Warriors trailed 2-1 on two separate occasions, including in the NBA Finals. Heading into Game 4 in Cleveland, everyone knew that it was a “must win” for the club, and they responded. One should expect the Warriors—a team that has been there before—to approach Game 2 with that same type of passion and zeal. The prospect of heading to Oklahoma City down 0-2 is one that any team with championship aspirations would want to avoid.

In Game 2, one would expect Durant and Westbrook to fare a tad better from the field, so the Warriors will need to convert closer to 50 percent from the field and certainly from behind the three-point line. Meanwhile, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli combined for just three points in 24 minutes of action, and that doesn’t seem a recipe for success. With Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter enjoying a decisive size advantage over the Warriors, it stands to reason that Bogut and Ezeli will need to be a bit more impactful.

The Warriors are defending champions and they are coming off of a record-breaking 73-win season. Although they won their season series over the Thunder 3-0, the Thunder seemed to outplay them in two of those contests, so Durant and company are entering this series with a ton of confidence. One could make the argument that the Warriors haven’t had to deal with three big men as nimble and agile as Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter, so we may be in unchartered territory. Still, the Warriors have proven to have heart and a brilliant head coach, so it still seems unwise to bet against them in their own gym.

While we are fairly comfortable predicting that the Warriors shoot more accurately and take better care of the basketball in Game 2, by now, the Thunder should have convinced everyone that they are a serious threat to win the championship. Based on what we saw in Game 1, Durant, Westbrook and the rest of their troops haven’t come this far to only come this far.

Game 2 takes place on Wednesday night.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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