Two Western Conference rivals with NBA Finals aspirations will be in action tonight. It’ll be the 34-26 Oklahoma City Thunder visiting the 45-14 and defending champion Golden State Warriors (8:30pm ET Saturday on ABC).
Despite the Warriors’ superior record, the Thunder have won both games of the season series handily so far. Oklahoma City has been quite inconsistent, though, and has had some major low points this season to offset their high points.
Both teams have tons of offensive weapons and have the defensive personnel to make things tough on each other, if they put in the effort. This preview will run through the factors that might be instrumental in the game’s outcome and then advise our betting picks and OKC vs Golden State Warriors predictions.
Can the Warriors Keep Their Turnovers Under Control?
Easily the Warriors’ biggest weakness as a team is their penchant for turnovers. Golden State has the best field-goal percentage (51.2), three-point percentage (39.5) and free-throw percentage (81.0) in the NBA, but its 15.9 turnovers per contest rank second-worst in the NBA.
Oklahoma City has been great at taking advantage of sloppy offense by the rest of the league this season. The Thunder lead the NBA in steals (9.1) and opponent turnovers (16.0) per game.
The Thunder provide a difficult matchup for the Warriors because of this. Golden State has combined for a whopping 47 turnovers in its two matchups against OKC this season, both blowout wins by the Thunder.
This issue is really all about focus. If the Warriors continue to be bored by the regular season, OKC will make them pay.
Will Paul George Continue to Play Kevin Durant to a Standstill?
George and Durant are both fantastic players. However, Durant is better than George. KD is probably the second or third-best player in the NBA, while PG-13 is somewhere between 10th and 15th.
Despite the difference in their skill, George and Durant have played at a very similar level when matched up against each other in the two games between the Warriors and Thunder this year. George has scored a total of 58 points on 19-of-42 shooting with 10 steals and Durant has put up 54 points on 16-of-31 shooting with nine turnovers.
The main difference between George and Durant is consistency. Both guys are great tough-shot makers, but George has frequent games where he can’t buy a bucket. Will PG-13 have one of his superstar games today?
Can Klay Thompson Unshackle Himself on Offense?
Thompson is a very good two-way player and a fantastic shooter. However, he isn’t the most consistent offensive player, especially since he struggles to score when his three-point shot isn’t falling.
In the two games versus the Thunder this season, Thompson has been invisible. He has averaged 10.5 points per contest (his overall average is 20.0) on 32 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent shooting from three-point range.
Klay is a more explosive third option for the Warriors than Carmelo Anthony is for the Thunder, and he needs to show it in the third matchup of the season series.
Our Preview’s OKC vs. Golden State Warriors Betting Picks & Predictions
The Warriors are the much better team, but they have been slacking off in the last month or two. OKC is even less consistent with its effort, but it matches up well with the Warriors and usually brings its best effort against elite teams.
Golden State will likely pull away in the closing minutes of the game, but this won’t be an easy win. Here are this preview’s OKC vs. Golden State Warriors predictions and picks:
- It is relatively unlikely that the Thunder will lose by double digits here, but the Warriors are favored by 9 points with all the United States’ betting websites. Bet on the Thunder +9pts @ best odds of -110 with Bookmaker, 5Dimes or MyBookie.
- This should be a pretty high-scoring game. However, since I see this game being tight all the way through, I think both squads will value possessions a bit more and be deliberate withtheir offensive sets. Put your money on this game going under the sky-high total of 235pts @ betting odds of -115 with Bovada. All other sportsbooks have the over / under at 234.5pts.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.