© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND – It’s tough to say how much information you can take from a regular season matchup and translate to a playoff series, but we can say one thing with certainty: A playoff matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder would be pure theatre.
Behind another huge third quarter and 28 points from Kevin Durant, the Warriors beat the Thunder 112-80 in the two team’s last meeting in Oakland of the regular season.
For the second game in a row, JaVale McGee got the start over Zaza Pachulia, and the first Warriors points on the night were a JaVale McGee lob. Those proved to be his only points of the game.
McGee’s counterpart Steven Adams was a problem for the Warriors from the jump. He was all over the floor, grabbing offensive rebounds and generally enforcing his will over whoever had the unfortunate task of guarding him in the paint.
Oklahoma City’s physicality kept the Thunder in the game early despite some horrendous shooting numbers. Paul George scored one point in the first half despite throwing up NINE shots. At one point after a timeout, he took a “see the ball go in the hoop” shot from 3 feet away and clanged it off the rim. George and fellow newcomer Carmelo Anthony started the game 1-for-16 from the field.
Oracle Arena was quiet for a Saturday night primetime matchup for most of the first half until Anthony and Kevin Durant had a bit of a dust-up that resulted in double technicals for both. Durant grabbed Anthony, Anthony shoved Durant, both parties had to be separated.
Guess Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant are exchanging Silicon Valley investment tips? 😅
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 25, 2018
Minutes later, Draymond Green blocked and fouled Jerami Grant at the basket. Either he didn’t hear the whistle or didn’t care, and celebrated the block with Grant laying at his feet. Westbrook ran onto the scene and complained that Green was celebrating over Grant, and the referees called a technical on the Warriors power forward.
Between the foul shots Green turned to the crowd and pumped up the fans next to the hoop, and the rest of the half had a playoff-like buzz to it. Draymond also found a new gear following the tech, and at one point tried to murder the rim during a dunk attempt.
Draymond hyping up the crowd=mood pic.twitter.com/3NmVTYxV8o
— Jonathan Wise (@jonjonwise) February 25, 2018
Kevin Durant had a slow start to the game, starting 2-for-7 from the field while missing mid-rangers he usually buries. Durant hit his next five shots, and helped the Warriors to a 52-45 lead at half.
That lead didn’t last long. The Thunder came out of the locker room with energy, put together a small run and found themselves on top 56-54 after Carmelo drained a 27-foot three pointer.
Midway though the quarter Anthony found himself in the middle of controversy yet again. Draymond Green fouled Anthony on a shot in the paint, and on the way down unintentionally hit Carmelo on the top of the head. The former Denver Nugget was visibly frustrated, and whipped his headband off his head – throwing it to the ground. He then sought out Draymond to have a few words, but Green – already on one technical – did his best to keep restrained.
Are you not entertained?
Then, the Warriors did what they do best, rode their two MVPs in the third quarter to run an opposing team out of Oracle. Stephen Curry dropped 10, Kevin Durant added 9 and the Warriors outscored the Thunder 32-11 in the period. The Warriors capped the quarter with an exclamation point when Nick Young nailed a corner three right in front of the Thunder bench, turned and shimmied to the crowd.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 25, 2018
And that was all she wrote on the night for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
These two teams will meet once more during the regular season, on April 3 when the Warriors travel to Oklahoma City. But if the Basketball Gods have any say, they’ll bless the NBA fan with a few more of these juicy match ups in the playoffs.
Next up for the Warriors is a small east coast swing to New York, Washington and Atlanta.