NBA Western Conference Finals Preview: KD and Russ ready to bring the fight to the Warriors

first_imgWe talked all season about the Warriors and the Spurs and the inevitability of their showdown in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors put together the greatest regular season in NBA history with 73 wins, and Spurs put up the second best defence of all time. (Latest Sports stories)The Warriors and Steph Curry were the unstoppable force on course for collision with KawhiLeanard and the unmovable Spurs.And then came the Thunder of Oklohama City, demolishing the Spurs en route to a date with the Warriors.The first game’s tomorrow and here’s what you need to know:1. KD is up and running.Steph Curry has been the best player in basketball the last two years, taking shots from 35 feet and breaking hearts. The thing is, Kevin Durant has been doing that since he entered the league.KD was injured nearly all of last season and spent this one adapting to a new coach and a team with the newly unleashed Russel Westbrook. He still did this though:Durant has averaged more points against the Warriors than any other team in the West and that’s because they don’t have a defender who can stop him.Additionally, him and Westbrook have taken their time but seemed to have figured out chemistry issues, letting Westbrook unleash his maniacal style but still getting KD the ball.2. Klay and Dramond have stepped up for the WarriorsProblem is the Warriors have not one but two ultimate cheat codes in Steph Curry and Dramond Green, with Klay Thompson being the most underrated player in basketball.advertisementSteph has been injured in the playoffs, missing five games but the Warriors haven’t missed a beat as Klay has picked up the scoring load with 27 points a game on a .635 True Shooting clip per Basketball Reference.He’s been supported by Dramond Green who has picked up everything else, averaging a near Triple Double with 17.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 7 assists a game in addition to his all world ability to defend five positions and make plays out of the Pick n Roll.3. The Thunder live and die with Russel WestrookThe Warriors are a mean machine which keeps on humming at greatness which Steph elevates to historic levels when he’s playing and the Thunder need both their stars to be at their best to match the Warriors holy trinity.Kevin Durant is going to get his 35-40, Steph, if he plays is going to get his 35-40, Klay is going to give you great defence with great shooting, Dramond will organise the defence and be match-up nightmare on offence but the fate of competitiveness in this series rests with its most mercurial component: Russel Westbrook.Russ took 30 shots against the Spurs in Game 3, made 10 and the Thunder lost. The next game he passed more to KD, played under control, took less shots, KD made the extra ones and they won. In Game 5 though, he did this:With Westbrook there’s one great, the 6th, and he’s previously struggled against the Warriors with Klay guarding him too well.If the Thunder are to win, Westbrook has to take less 3s (26% on 6 attempts a game), and attack the rim as that’s the best way to break their backline defence and get Dramond in foul trouble.4. Warriors are hobbled but have a better benchThe Warriors, on the other hand, are struggling with injuries with Steph still not fully recovered from his MCL strain, Draymond feeling his ankle in Game 5 against Portland and there haven’t been any updates on Andrew Bogut who could be vital in stopping the Thunder’s big men.This really is the only way someone beats The Warriors as on full health they are unstoppable. They demolished the Spurs storied defence in the regular season, and the Thunder have too many deficiencies in their overall rotation, starting and ending with defending Draymond Green.Both teams have recently worked on their bench strength. Thunder’s EnerKanter, Steven Adams and Dion Waiters have matured in the Playoffs with incredible defensive improvement.But the Warriors have a 10 deep rotation full of pass happy, savvy vets with Shaun Livingtson and Iggy being as good as ever. If Andrew Bogut is fully fit and can give 25 minutes a game of normal Bogut defence, the Warriors bench will demolish OKC’s.Prediction:The Thunder’s new found belief plus the Warriors not being a 100% barely puts us on even footing here, and that really is the best chance anyone has had at beating them in two years.The rational mind should predict for a Warriors win as they’re just too good.advertisementBut the Warriors don’t have a way to stop Durant who seems to be getting hot at the right time, with Westbrook suddenly having more good Russ games than before.This could be a series for the ages which I think ends in an upset for the ages.Thunder win in 6.last_img read more

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