OAKLAND –- The Game of the Year, February edition, arrives Saturday evening when the Warriors and the roaring Oracle Arena crowd greet the rampaging Oklahoma City Thunder in the first meeting of the season between the teams.
The Warriors (NBA-best 45-4) are riding an eight-game win streak and, moreover, are 22-0 at home this season and have won 40 in a row at Oracle dating back to January 2015. They are 19-0 when holding opponents under 100 points.
But Oklahoma City also has been on quite a role, winning five in a row and 12 of its last 13. The Thunder average 109.2 points per game (second to the Warriors’ 115.4) and has been held below 100 only five times.
The game features the NBA’s leading scorer, Warriors guard Stephen Curry (29.8 points per game), and its No. 3 scorer, Thunder forward Kevin Durant (27.4).
The Warriors this season are 3-0 in “statement” games, sweeping two games against Cleveland and also winning their first meeting with San Antonio.
Warriors by 8.5
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook: The reigning MVP is leading the race this season, but Westbrook is holding runner-up status. Two dissimilar point guards racking up big numbers, with Curry relying on clever moves and brilliant shooting while Westbrook uses superb athleticism and machismo. Though shooting guard Klay Thompson spends more time on Westbrook, the point guard with the more efficient game puts his team in position to win.
Harrison Barnes/Andre Iguodala/Draymond Green vs. Kevin Durant: No player in the league poses a more difficult matchup problem than the 6-foot-10 Durant, who combines length and terrific athleticism, as well as spectacular shooting ability. The Warriors typically throw multiple defenders at him, sometimes at once. Keeping Durant under 30 points is, on most nights, a defensive triumph.
Warriors: 9-1. Thunder: 9-1.
Warriors: C Festus Ezeli (L knee soreness) and F James Michael McAdoo (L foot toe sprain) are listed as out.
Thunder: G Andre Roberson (R knee sprain) is listed as out.
The Warriors last season took three of four meetings, taking the season series for the first time since the franchise left Seattle for Oklahoma City in 2008. The Warriors have won the last three meetings in Oakland.
“It’s going to be fun in that building, like a playoff atmosphere, which it is almost every game for us. But especially when a really good team comes to town, the fans just bring that much more energy. And we do as well. So with Super Bowl weekend, I bet there’s going to be a ton of new faces in the crowd. We just want to give them a show.” – Thompson anticipating Saturday’s game.