Though the Warriors have spent the past three weeks winning eight consecutive games, blowing out opponents by an average of almost 20 points, they expect a formidable test Friday night.
When they face the Thunder in Oklahoma City's notoriously noisy Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Warriors (31-5) will be trying to sweep a four-game season series against the perennial contenders.
Despite the general health of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (18-20) is reeling, having lost three of its last four –- beginning with a Jan. 5 loss to the Warriors.
Playing their third game in four nights, with another game scheduled for Saturday in Houston, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will rest veterans Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala against OKC.
Thunder by 2
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Harrison Barnes/Draymond Green vs. Kevin Durant. The two Warriors will alternate on Durant, the reigning MVP and conceivably the most difficult defensive assignment in the league. The most effective defender can expect to get the bulk of the minutes on KD.
Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson vs. Russell Westbrook. Kerr generally stays with traditional matchups, which would keep Curry on fellow point guard Westbrook. But Westbrook is so athletically challenging he can expect to get doses of Thompson and others, including Shaun Livingston.
Green/Barnes vs. Serge Ibaka. Insofar as the Warriors sometimes struggle to prevent second-chance points, Green, in particular, will have keep off Ibaka the glass. On the other end, Ibaka will have has hands full chasing Green or Barnes out near the 3-point line
KEYS TO VICTORY
1-Pound the glass. OKC ranks second in the league in rebounds yet no individual ranks in the top 30. All five Warriors have to attack to avoid losing that battle.
2-Make it rain. Curry and Thompson lately have been shooting particularly well beyond the arc. They'll need to continue, with Barnes and Green also pitching in.
3-Create turnovers. The Thunder can be inconsistent and even sloppy with the ball. The Warriors defend well enough to exploit that.
LAST 10: Warriors 8-2. Thunder 5-5.
Warriors: C Andrew Bogut (rest), F Andre Iguodala (rest) and C Festus Ezeli (sprained left ankle) are listed as out.
Thunder: F Mitch McGary (Periostitis, left tibia) is listed as out.
Warriors C Ognjen Kuzmic is on assignment with D-League affiliate Santa Cruz.
By taking the first three meetings this season, the Warriors have won the season series over the Thunder for the first time since the franchise moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008. Prior to this season, the Warriors had lost 13 of 17 to OKC.