NBA rumors are surrounding the Oklahoma City Thunder. After defeating the Golden State Warriors in the first game of their playoffs series, fans are starting to believe that defending champions might actually be knocked off. According to NBC Sports, the Thunder might have figured out the formula for beating the seemingly unbeatable Warriors.
Last year, the Golden State Warriors figured out the formula to defeat LeBron James in the NBA Finals and subsequently dominate the world of basketball. Thanks to a late night suggestion from a special coaching assistant, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr decided to go with a small lineup. The move worked, and they became virtually impossible to guard on some nights.
The change made by the Golden State Warriors was replacing Andrew Bogut in the starting lineup with Andre Iguodala. Bogut is a 7’0″, 250-pound center. Iguodala is a 6’6″, 220-pound small forward. Harrison Barnes became a 6’8″, 220-pound power forward. Draymond Green became a center, despite being just 6’7″, 230 pounds.
To try to keep up with the Golden State Warriors, other coaches in the NBA tried going with small ball lineups as well. Of course, it didn’t work as well, since they did not have the same personnel as the Warriors. A big reason why the lineup works is because of the versatility of Draymond Green. He can play on the perimeter and defend bigger centers.
During Game 1, Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan attempted to go small whenever his team found themselves at a deficit. Serge Ibaka was shifted to center, while Kevin Durant moved to power forward. It didn’t work. The Golden State Warriors managed to increase their lead.
Rather than continuing down that path, Billy Donovan wisely decided to go back to what worked for the Oklahoma City Thunder. They were able to beat the heavily favored San Antonio Spurs in the second round by using their big lineup. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams combined were just too much for the Spurs.
The bigger lineup from the Oklahoma City Thunder was able to out muscle the Golden State Warriors. The former had a distinct advantage in rebounds. The Warriors also struggled to drive into the paint, something that they’re normally excellent at doing. With their outside shot not up to par, Golden State really didn’t explode on offense.
Adjustments are what the NBA is all about. Coaches and players make changes all the time to swing the advantage back to their side. Steve Kerr is excellent at making adjustments. Unfortunately for him, Billy Donovan is showing quite the proclivity at doing it as well. Whatever changes that Kerr makes might be countered by Donovan.
A possible option for Steve Kerr is to utilize the big men that the Golden State Warriors usually stash on the bench. Andrew Bogut only played 17 minutes. He could see a boost in the next game. Marreese Speights and Festus Ezeli combined for just 14 minutes. Both of those guys could end up hearing their names called by Kerr more frequently.
It’s essential for the Golden State Warriors to pick up the victory in Game 2. Going on the road to play the Oklahoma City Thunder down 2-0 is not an easy task. While it’s not impossible for the Warriors to beat the Thunder on the road, it would put a lot more pressure on the Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and the rest.
It’s much too soon to declare the series over, but things are much more interesting between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors now. There are a lot more eyes on the Western Conference Finals now.
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