The numbers convey ghastly and ominous facts about the Warriors and where they stand and how much farther they can go in the Western Conference Finals.
The visual reality is worse.
To make a second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, they need something miraculous.
The Warriors thought they knew what they were facing when they drew Oklahoma City, which in the conference semifinals won three games in a row over the San Antonio Spurs, who were the league’s No. 2 team in the regular season.
The Warriors, the league’s top team in the regular season, sweeping three games from OKC in the process, are discovering the New Thunder are exceedingly and stubbornly problematic.
“I’m very surprised,” Klay Thompson said after Game 4.
The numbers as the teams approach Game 5 Thursday night at Oracle Arena tell us the Warriors have no answer for Oklahoma City’s defense. The turnovers are coming in bunches, 61 of them in all, leading to 68 Thunder points.
The visual reality: OKC’s defense is too strong when coach Billy Donovan decides to play big. And it’s too tough to navigate when the Thunder go small. With OKC’s small lineup being longer and at least as fast as that of the Warriors, the Thunder are forcing turnovers.
The numbers: The Warriors, with the exception of their Game 2 rout, have been outscored in nine of 12 quarters -– and in seven of the nine by at least 9 points.
“We are going to have to adjust our game plan,” center Andrew Bogut said.
The visual reality: The Warriors lack the matchups to physically compete with OKC’s offense, which undergoes transformations from game to game, quarter to quarter, sometimes several times within a quarter. As skilled as the Warriors are, they tend to foul because that’s what a defense does when at a physical disadvantage.
The numbers: The Warriors in Game 1 lost a 13-point halftime lead, something they had not done all season. In Games 3 and 4 of this series, the Warriors allowed back-to-back 72-point first halves, something they had not done all season. They lost consecutive games for the first time all season.
The visual reality: Roster-to-roster, there is little the Warriors can do to slow OKC. They won Game 2 on the power of belief, the visceral support enjoyed at Oracle Arena and a torrid third quarter by Stephen Curry -– yet it was apparent the Thunder, having already pocketed the road split, did not bring much of an edge.
The numbers: The Warriors are being clobbered on the glass. OKC is averaging 49 rebounds per game, the Warriors 41.8. The Thunder are outscoring the Warriors 62-44 in second-chance points, and are plus-17 on fast-break points, a Warriors specialty.
“Obviously, they’ve wanted it more than us,” Draymond Green said.
“We’re forcing stops, we’re getting stops, but we’re not going and getting the ball,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We have to be able to chase down loose balls and long rebounds. Otherwise, they’re getting just way too many possessions compared to us.”
The visual reality: The Warriors have yet to find an effective big man, and Kerr has tried them all, from Festus Ezeli and Bogut, to Marreese Speights and Anderson Varejao. Green, usually money at center, has come up empty.
The numbers: Of the 232 teams that have been down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series, only nine have found their way back. That’s a failure rate of 96.5 percent -– or, put inversely, a success rate of 3.5 percent.
More numbers: The Warriors need to sweep three games against an OKC team that through four games has outscored them 450-419.
The visual reality: The best and perhaps only chance for the Warriors to get back in this series is if Thompson or a clearly wounded Curry can summon nuclear performances while the Thunder fade a bit.
Curry’s 17-point third quarter in Game 2 busted open what had been a reasonably competitive game. Thompson’s 19-point third quarter in Game 4 briefly made competitive a game OKC had owned.
Can the Splash Brothers come up with three such games? Does either have any miracles left? For now, the Warriors would settle for one.
“This series isn’t over,” Curry said. “We’ve got to believe in ourselves. It’s obviously frustrating. It’s a terrible feeling once again not stepping up and being ourselves and playing our game.
“But I think we’re a special team and that this isn’t how we’re going to go out. So we’re going to figure out how we can take care of these next 48 minutes on Thursday, and then we’ll talk again.”