Western Conference Finals
Tonight at 8pm CT, the defending champion Golden State Warriors will take the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oakland, CA in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors, led by unanimous MVP award winner Steph Curry are coming off a record breaking season totaling 73 wins and only 9 losses. They now hold the best regular season record in NBA history, breaking the iconic 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72-10. Steph Curry averaged 30.1 points per game this season and broke his own NBA record for most 3-pointers in a season with 402. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are stars on the team, both making it to the All Star team this year. The Warriors beat the Houston Rockets pretty handily but faced a little more resistance against the Portland Trailblazers in the semifinals.
The Thunder, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are coming off a hard fought 6 game series against the San Antonio Spurs, where many people believed that they were the inferior team. Durant averaged 28.5 points in the series against the Spurs, along with Westbrook who averaged 25.2 points per game. Oklahoma City is looking for their first finals appearance since the 2011- 2012 season where they lost to Lebron James and the Miami Heat 4 games to 1 and their first NBA championship since 1979 when they were known as the Seattle Supersonics.
The Thunder and Warriors faced off against each other three times this season, with Golden State winning all three matchups. In two of the 3 matchups Oklahoma City had a lead in the 4th quarter, only to end up losing the contest. In the 3rd matchup, Steph Curry hit “the shot heard round the world”, a bomb from halfcourt in overtime to win the game. Both teams are very explosive on offense and can score in bunches. It’s going to come down to defense, rebounding, effort plays and turnovers.
When Russell Westbrook was asked about defending Stephen Curry, he responded confidently “He’s a shooter… nothing I’ve never seen before”. Curry, who has missed 6 games this postseason, came off the bench in his return against the Trailblazers and totaled 40 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. In his next game he scored 29 points and had 11 assists to win the NBA Western Conference Semi Finals. The Thunder are going to have to find a way to contain the 2 Time MVP, who seems to have unlimited range on the basketball court.
The winners of this series will more than likely face off against LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Cleveland is playing the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals, a team that is definitely viewed as the underdog. This could set up for a rematch of last year’s NBA finals, where the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in six games.