Less than a week after the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder played the best game of the 2015-2016 NBA season, the two teams will go at it once again. Two of the West’s top three teams will face off at Oracle Arena on Thursday night.
Golden State narrowly escaped Oklahoma City with a win on Saturday night, needing overtime and a 37-foot shot from Stephen Curry with less than a second remaining to win 121-118. The Warriors are off to the best start in NBA history at 54-5, and they are 13 games ahead of the Northwest Division leading Thunder. Oklahoma City has the NBA’s fourth-best record, but they might pose the biggest challenge in the Warriors’ quest to win a second straight title.
The Thunder outplayed the Warriors for much of Saturday’s game, leading by seven points with three minutes remaining in regulation. A poor turnover by Kevin Durant in the final seconds allowed Golden State to force the extra session, and the Warriors were helped when Durant fouled out in overtime. Durant scored 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and the Warriors haven’t proven that they can slow down Oklahoma City’s two stars.
Russell Westbrook added 26 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds of his own, and the two players have totaled 130 points in two games against the Warriors this season. The Thunder lost by eight points in Golden State on Feb. 6, though the two teams were separated by just one possession with two minutes left.
The Warriors have blown out most of their competition this season, and the Thunder might have missed their chance to be one of the few teams to hand Golden State a loss. Las Vegas oddsmakers have made Golden State 7.5-point favorites over Oklahoma City at Oracle Arena, where the league’s No.1 team has been unbeatable. The Warriors are 25-0 at home this season, and their 43-game winning streak at home is just one away from the record that the Chicago Bulls set in 1996.
Stephen Curry struggled with his shot when the Warriors beat the Thunder a month ago, though he still managed to score 26 points despite missing eight of his nine three-point attempts. He scored 46 points while making a record-tying 12 threes in Saturday’s game, even though he sat out part of the contest after rolling his ankle. The injury forced Curry to miss Golden State’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, though he’s expected to play on Thursday.
Draymond Green’s three-pointer with 40.2 seconds left on Tuesday helped the Warriors beat the Hawks without Curry in their only game since beating the Thunder. Green was one assist away from recording another one of his league-leading triple-doubles, though he failed to make a field goal in Oklahoma City. Green made news by going on a locker room tirade at halftime of Saturday’s game, though he later acknowledged he made a mistake.
As they chase history, the Warriors continue to be featured on national TV. Their win over the Thunder on Saturday was the highest-rated NBA regular-season game that didn’t air on Christmas since 2013, and Thursday night should bring another strong rating.
The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT at 10:30 p.m. ET, and viewers can watch a free live stream online with Watch TNT.
Oklahoma City has gone 1-1 since losing to Golden State, falling to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. With the NBA's two highest-scoring teams going head-to-head, the over/under is 230 points. Having to play two of the West's top teams in back to back nights, however, could take a toll on the Thunder and their ability to put up so many points.
Prediction: Golden State over Oklahoma City, 112-102