Western Conference Finals: Game 5 Preview and Prediction

 

 Game Information

  • Thunder lead series 3-1
  • Game 1: Thunder 108, Warriors 102
  • Game 2: Warriors 118, Thunder 91
  • Game 3: Thunder 133, Warriors 105
  • Game 4: Thunder 118, Warriors 94
  • Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
  • Time: Thursday, May 26, at 9:00 PM ET
  • Betting Odds: GSW -8

Key Information

After yet another blowout in Game 4, the Thunder head back to Oakland with a 3-1 series lead against the legendary 73-9 Warriors. The Thunder are out playing the Warriors defensively, offensively, in transition, and in hustle stats.

Kevin Durant is playing the best defense of his career, Russell Westbrook has controlled himself and is still stuffing the stat sheet, role players are stepping up, and the coaching staff is making the correct adjustments. The lineup of Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka, Waiters, and Roberson have outscored the Warriors by 49 points in 30 minutes played together. This lineup did not play a single minute together in the first two playoff series. This shows Billy Donovan’s ability to adjust in the biggest of games.

During the Bulls’ historic 1995-96 season, Scottie Pippen famously wore a shirt that said “72-10 don’t mean a thing without the ring.” This same phrase rings true right now with the Warriors on the brink of elimination.

In order for the Warriors to avoid a Game 5 loss, as simply as I can put it, the Warriors just need to make their shots. Once Stephen Curry hits a few threes, the rest of the team starts to get involved on defense, causing turnovers, fastbreaks, and highlights. This is why I simply say, if Steph Curry can get it going tonight, that arena will feed off of his performance and the Warriors will win.

It sounds that simple, but in order to do this the Warriors need to figure out what tempo to play at. The Thunder have one of the best scorers in the NBA history in Kevin Durant, so letting him go one-on-one in a slowed down half-court game is not a good idea. The tempo thus far has been fast, which has favored OKC because of their athleticism. This is a change for the Warriors because they are used to just running any team they play off the court. The Thunder are forcing turnovers and running in transition, which gets them going and allows them to go on huge runs. The Warriors need to play fast to be at their best but they also to be controlled.

I expect the Warriors to stick with the Thunder tonight, and for Stephen Curry to have one of his signature quarters in which he takes over.

Prediction

Warriors 117, Thunder 106

 

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