Thunder Starters Were Great Against Warriors In Regular Season

By Randy Renner, Senior Writer

Pouring over some of the statistical information compiled through the regular season in general, the three games the Warriors and Thunder played against each other in particular and now how each has done in the playoffs you get a pretty good idea of what’s worked and what hasn’t.

One thing that clearly stands out for the Thunder is how effective their regular starting lineup (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams) was in the two games they played against Golden State. Remember Roberson didn’t play in one of the three games because of an injury.

In those other two games, both losses of course, the Thunder starters were a plus 23 going up against Golden State’s starters and more importantly held GSW to just 90.2 points per 100 possessions.

That group was on the floor for 32 combined minutes in the two games and shot a whopping 55.9 percent overall and 50 percent (8-for-16) from three.

But of course the starters can’t play the entire game, although they generally will play more than in the regular season, and all other lineups the Thunder used in the regular season against the Warriors were a combined minus 49 in 117 combined minutes and Golden State scored 118.7 points per 100 possessions.

Some other notes from the regular season series…

The Warriors so-called “Death Lineup” going small with Draymond Green at center only played 17 minutes together in the series but scored an impressive 57 points and had a plus 17. So OKC also scored a lot of points, 40, in those 17 minutes but it wasn’t enough to keep up.

Steven Adams and Enes Kanter only played five minutes on the floor at the same time and that came in the same game, February 6th, when the Warriors won 116-108. The Thunder didn’t exactly thrive with The Stache Brothers on the floor then. The team was 1-for-8 with seven rebounds, two turnovers and a block in the five minutes Adams and Kanter played together.

So not exactly a success but also a very limited kind of first experiment with that.

As we’ve seen those guys have really come on lately playing 66 minutes together against the Spurs, a good chunk of those minutes coming in the fourth quarters of games 5 and 6. The Thunder were a plus 27 in those 66 minutes.

Golden State shot the ball well against OKC in the regular season. The Warriors had an Effective Field Goal percentage (adjusted for made 3-pointers) of 55.9 percent, the best any team shot against the Thunder all season. By the way the second best team in that stat against OKC is Cleveland at 55,4 percent, the team the Thunder could meet in The Finals if they can get past GSW.

Durant had great success against the Warriors averaging 36.3 points per game. That’s his highest against any Western Conference opponent. He hit almost half his threes (10-for-21) but the rest of the Thunder lineup combined to go just 10-for-47 (21 percent) against the Warriors.

KD and the Thunder were at their best against Golden State when anyone not named Andre Iguodala was guarding Durant.

With Iggy in his face Durant’s Effective Field Goal percentage came in right at 50 percent and the Thunder averaged just 92.6 points per 100 possessions. Put anyone else on KD and those numbers shoot up with the Thunder averaging 115.4 points per 100 possessions and Durant’s eFG% going all the way up to 68.9 percent.

The Thunder are starting this series, just like the last one, on the road. Except for that first game in San Antonio the Thunder have been outstanding. They’re the only playoff team that’s been more efficient (111.9 points per 100 possessions) on the road than at home (110.8).

Despite all the publicity the Warriors get for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson dominating things and the Warriors fast break, Westbrook actually leads all postseason players with 6.1 fast break points per game, 10.8 assists per game, 83 shots taken from the restricted area and nine double-doubles.

And Westbrook (66) and Durant (65) rank first and second in total transition points (131). Thompson just has 38, Curry just 19, of course his numbers are so low because he’s missed some playoff games.

Those are some of the numbers that stand out. What do they all mean? Maybe not much at all or who knows perhaps a lot.

We’ll begin to see tonight if any of the trends that have shown up so far in the playoffs or that were there during the regular season make an impact in this series.

Until then it’s almost impossible to say, but it’s sure going to be fun finding out.