I’m coming off a one game winning streak. I finally nailed a matchup prediction in the Orlando game. Got the starting lineup right, got the matchups right. Got Orlando’s matchups right: Pietrus on Monta. And then there was my prediction on how long Mikki Moore would survive against Dwight Howard. I put the over/under at 8 minutes. He picked up his third foul and hit the pine in 7:55. Is it time to start betting feltbot ATS?
Not so fast. Tonight’s opponent, the OKC Thunder plays 6-11″ superstar Kevin Durant at the small forward. This presents a difficult matchup problem, it goes without saying, for every team in the league. But even more so for the Warriors. The Warriors have taken to guarding the other team’s best scorer, regardless of position, with Monta Ellis. And by and large, he’s been very effective with that assignment. But the Warriors can’t guard 6-11″ Durant with Ellis, can they? No way, right? Right?
Could this be the moment to put Anthony Randolph into the starting lineup? I would love to see Randolph match up against Durant at the SF, one game after combating Dwight Howard at center. Whether or not this happens may depend on whether the Warriors open the game with a big line-up. They may not, because the Thunder’s starting center Nenad Krstic, sat out last game with a sprained ankle, and their backup center is Nick Collison, a power forward. Heck, even Corey Maggette could handle him! Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to make you ill.
If Krstic sits out this game, I think you can expect it to be a battle of smalls right from the start. In that case, it will be tough to predict the Warriors’ starting lineup. Even if Randolph does start, however, I don’t believe he will be used to guard Durant, even though he would probably be the most effective of all Warriors to use on him. Randolph is too valuable to the Warriors as the last line of defense in the lane. They don’t want to waste his shot-blocking and rebounding by using him on the perimeter.
So here’s my guess: Vlad Rad will guard Durant, whether the Warriors start Randolph or not. Anthony Morrow will have the difficult task of guarding power forward Jeff Green. He’s big, but not that much bigger than Carmelo Anthony. Once Morrow gets chewed up, Maggette will take over.
So will Monta guard Sefolosha or Westbrook? Hmm, that’s not so easy either. Sefolosha is 6-7″ and a pretty good scorer. He would be a handful for Curry. But Westbrook makes the Thunder go, and would be even more of a handful. I would put Monta on Westbrook, and see if the Thunder want to make a scorer out of Sefolosha. Anything that keeps the ball out of Durant and Green’s hands would be a plus. As Don Nelson says: You can’t attack every mismatch at the same time.
The Warriors are +7.5 road dogs in this game. Wow, really? In the last two games at OKC, the Thunder were only -1 and -2 favorites, and the two teams split. The Warriors are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games on the road. I don’t get this line. I like the Warriors.