OAKLAND -- This is your reminder that all the “Golden State has figured out the Oklahoma City plan” narratives you will read between now and Sunday’s third game of the Western Conference Finals will have the same weight as all the “Oklahoma City has figured out the Golden State plan” narratives after Game 1.
Truth is, Game 1 was a white-knuckler that looked more lopsided because the Thunder swamped the Warriors in the second half, and Game 2 was a Cavs-Raptors-level rout, 118-91, because the Warriors swamped the Thunder in the second half, starting with the last 1:47 of the second quarter.
And anyone who tells you they have a line in Game 3 is either a liar, a game fixer, or both. And if you are a game-fixer, call anytime, 1-800-WeTakeTips. We are not proud, or particularly moralistic.
The Warriors deconstructed the Thunder by unleashing the Curry for 1:58 of the third quarter, but getting more out of Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli than Oklahoma City got out of Steven Adams (and yes, that includes the Draymond Green knee to Adams’ family aggregators in the first half), by visible and timely contributions from the Iguodala/Livingston/Barbosa/Speights wing of the party, and even a useful evening’s shooting from the often skittish Harrison Barnes.
In other words, the Warriors brought the full force of their depth, rhythm and game disrupting skills to bear as they did not in Game 1, and now the series trundles off to Oklahoma City after three days of chewing on the lessons of Game 2.
Which, as we have said, are as fungible as the lessons from Game 1, because, and we know you have heard this before, there is momentum within games but not between them. The Warriors have to regather this for Sunday, and the Thunder have to prevent it, all from scratch.
In other words, the adjustment period is over, and now it is simply a matter of deeds done by those who do the doing.
The Warriors entered this game with a nice doubt-on-rye lunch special, in danger of having to try to become the fourth team in NBA history to lose the first two games of a series at home and winning the series anyway. The others, now that you don’t really need to know this unless Toronto loses Thursday but rallies to win the Eastern final, were Los Angeles (over the Warriors when they were still San Franciscan) in 1969, Houston (over Phoenix) in 1994, and Dallas (over Houston) in 2005.
But after some first half jousting, mostly with the resurgent Kevin Durant, who scored 23 of his 29 points in the first half, the Warriors blitzed the Thunder in a most unlikely way to invigorate all within and outside the dressing room.
- Andre Iguodala (14 points on 10 shots, including five free throws) made three of those after being fouled by Serge Ibaka on a three-point attempt.
- Then the Warriors won a key board battle 30 seconds later following up Klay Thompson and Draymond Green misses in the same sequence to get a chippie from (Festus) Ezeli.
- Ezeli then collected a Dion Waiters miss and sparked a break that led to a long Thompson two.
- Then Iguodala stole a Russell Westbrook pass for a ridiculous layup that taught us all lessons about backward spin and the improbability of balance.
- And finally, Iguodala finished a lob from Green with a thunderous (sorry) dunk to make a 47-46 deficit – the only one the Warriors had to endure all evening – a 57-49 halftime lead.
They held that lead firmly until Curry did what Curry typically does -– break a game’s will to live with four threes (total distance, 101 feet), a fourth regular field goal and four free throws. That was after he fumed about a no-call and slammed the ball down in front of crew chief Mike Callahan, who held his whistle rather than call a technical foul or pitch into a lecture about decorum.
And that was after he sailed into the stands to chase a loose ball and scared a few pacemakers into double time by staying on the ground for a good thirty seconds.
Mostly, though, the Warriors got meaningful minutes from 10 of their 12 players (Green, in particular, was much better with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists than when he had 23 in Game 1), while the Thunder got Durant for a half (only five shots in the second half), 12 assists from the otherwise inert and frustrated Westbrook, and nothing else of consequence.
If that passes as inside dope on this game, fine. You don’t really need charts to understand it -– just a rudimentary comprehension of who is kicking ass, and whose names are being taken.
Which is why, when asked what stood out about this Curry Flurry (patent pending) as opposed to all the others he has seen, head coach Steve Kerr delivered the enduring message of the evening: “Nothing.”
What he meant was, “This is what we do. This is how we do it. If you can stop it, good on your fathers. If you can’t, good on ours.” And that will resonate in the prairie over the next six days and nights.
The Warriors didn’t Warrior in Game 1, and did in Game 2. The Thunder dominated in the meaningful minutes of Game 1, and receded in the same ones Wednesday. In the immortal words of Netflix, analyze that.