After a shocking game three blowout, the Golden State Warriors take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in a pivotal Western Conference Finals Game 4 (9pm ET Tuesday). Read on for our Game 4 preview, with picks and betting predictions.
Well, that was unexpected. In what is looking to be much more of a back-and-forth, evenly matched series that originally anticipated, the Oklahoma City Thunder absolutely blew out the Golden State Warriors as the conference final moved to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first of two games.
Proving that anything the Warriors could do, they could do better, the Thunder followed up their own blowout loss of 27 points in game two, and raised it, by handedly defeating the winning most team in a single season in NBA history, by a score of 133-105. Not only were the 133 points the most the Warriors have surrendered on defense all season, but the loss by 28 points was also a season high.
Golden State will look to bounce back in a Game 4 that quite frankly, has become must-win for the Warriors to avoid going down 3-1 against a Thunder team which is proving to be championship hungry and up to the challenge. This Thunder is a far cry from the team of the regular season which couldn’t hold late game leads. So far in this series it seems the Warriors may have underestimated just how much of a threat they are.
The Warriors Won’t Win if Durant, Westbrook Continue to Dominate
Only in the fourth quarter of Game 3, when the starters were resting and the lead felt safe, did the Thunder have a period where they failed to score at least 34 points. Opening the gate, OKC dropped 34 in the first quarter, followed by 38 in the second and a whopping 45 in the third. It was record setting in almost every statistical shooting category.
At one time in the game there was a 41-point deficit. Never have the Warriors trailed by that much. In fact, prior to this game, only a handful of times had they trailed by even half that margin. This was as decisive a beating as Golden State has received this year and on top of that, it was one of the most complete, dominant wins of the entire postseason. The 133 points also matched a franchise record for the Thunder for highest scoring playoff game.
The dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the way with their best collective effort of the playoffs. Both shot over 50 percent from the floor for the first time this postseason, notching a total of 63 points between them. Westbrook added 12 assists, another playoff high for him, and fell just two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
They were not to be outdone by the Splash Brothers either as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (pictured) had 24 and 18 points respectively. Both also shot below 50 percent from the floor, somewhat odd considering just how potent and accurate a scoring tandem the two have been all year.
But everyone has off nights. It just so happened however, that neither Durant nor Westbrook did. And that’s where the real story of this series going forward is. In the Thunder’s two wins, the duo have played 150 minutes and have scored 106 points, which is an efficiency rating of about .07 points per minute. In the loss however, Westbrook struggled having just 16 points in 31 minutes, which is just over half a point per minute. Durant however kept pace, scoring 29 points in 35 minutes (.08 points per minute).
But despite Durant being a star, the Thunder still lost because Westbrook had an off day. That’s the thing about the Thunder. It’s not like the Warriors where the team is dependent on Curry’s production, or the Cleveland Cavaliers which rely mostly on LeBron James. No, OKC has two bona fide stars and in the games against higher competition levels, the Thunder more often than not have needed both of them to perform in order to win.
The Game 3 blowout was a perfect example. Because if the Thunder play like that and if both Westbrook and Durant continue to be on fire on all aspects of the court, then that very well could mean the Warriors are just playing to survive. To put it in the words of Thompson, who was quoted following the Game 3 loss: “We’re not going to win that way. One of those guys got to have an off night.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, only so much of that is actually in their control.
Our Preview’s Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder Game 4 Predictions & Betting Picks
I made the mistake of betting against the Thunder before with my picks and I’d love to say the same isn’t going to happen again but well, I can’t. That’s because in the pendulum-shifting series, I expect that pattern to continue.
Are the Warriors going to blow out the Thunder? No, that’s highly unlikely. But are they going to win and keep this thing going? Yes, I do believe so and that is my preview’s prediction.
So in this case it’s not so much betting against the Thunder, but betting on the pattern being established and on top of that, the pattern that goes along with Westbrook and Durant’s ability to be 100 percent in 100 percent of the games. Westbrook already had his downer of the series but Durant has been on fire. And maybe that could continue, but the thing to keep in mind is that Golden State came off Game 3 blowouts twice during last year’s title run and only came back stronger to win both those series and the championship. History, like mistakes, can tend to repeat itself.
So my money is on the Warriors to tie this one up and to get us one step closer to a seven game series which is all anybody has wanted from the beginning. Expect this one to be close though, real gritty play on both ends. Curry won’t have two off nights in a row and the Warriors, who haven’t lost two in a row since last season, won’t do that either.
- The betting pick of this Game 4 preview is to bet on Golden State Warriors – 1.5pts on the spread @ -105 odds with BetOnline Sportsbook.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.