Warriors are +5.5 at OKC tonight. The key to this game, in my opinion, is the way Smart chooses to guard Russell Westbrook, who has emerged as a true beast. It seems obvious to me that Monta should be assigned to him, and Curry to the offensively challenged Sefelosha and Harden. The Thunder are unaccustomed to running their offense through their two-guards, and if they want to attack Curry in that matchup it would force their offense into an uncomfortable direction. And Curry on Westbrook would be a disaster. Immediate foul trouble. This is obvious, right? Unfortunately, nothing has been obvious to Coach Smart lately.
Best of all might be to play a zone. The Warriors are going to really struggle with the Thunder’s quickness. In addition to Westbrook, Jeff Green will be a tough matchup. Green is lightning quick in comparison with David Lee, and will attempt to pull him out to the three point line and drive around him. Will Keith Smart allow his best rebounder to be pulled out of the lane for the second game in a row?
Kevin Durant has been out the last two games with a sprained knee, but he’ll show up tonight for the Warriors, as I’m sure Bob Fitzgerald will remind us repeatedly. Nellie tortured Durant with Monta Ellis last year, remember? Ellis forced him RIGHT, which is his less preferred direction, and pestered his dribble. Will Keith Smart remember at least this much? And will Dorell Wright take the challenge to be a stopper? If he does, it will be the first time this season. It’s past time DWright got in someone’s shirt, I mean really up in their shirt, the way Ellis did to Durant, Roy and Kobe last year.
That’s what stoppers do.