For the first half of last night’s Game 1, everything went according to plan for the Golden State Warriors. On offense, they zipped the ball around the perimeter, causing OKC’s defenders to scramble into mismatches; on defense, they were hyperkinetic, confusing the Thunder’s simplistic sets and forcing their two superstars, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, into taking even worse shots than they’re used to taking and committing heaps of turnovers. Steve Kerr went with the Dubs’ famed “death lineup” early, and got results going small against the Thunder, who arguably have the league’s best frontcourt. At halftime the Warriors were up 13 and the game looked all but over—Golden State had run away with games closer than this all season long.
But in the second half, the Thunder—particularly Russell Westbrook, who dropped 19 in the third quarter—battled back by scrapping and by forcing Golden State to play their disjointed brand of basketball. The second half was defined by quick, ugly possessions and, aside from Westbrook, the supporting casts carried the load. As they did against the Spurs, it was the Thunder’s misfit toys who pushed their team over the edge: Steven “Kiwi Wario” Adams, who dropped 16 (16!) and was a monster on the glass and in the pick and roll; Enes Kanter, whose offensive rebounding more than made up for the fact that he seems to barely understand the concept of defense; and Dion Waiters, who did Dion Waiters things, but also did a shockingly competent job guarding Steph Curry. Even with Russ’s third quarter, he and Durant were awful—they shot a combined 17-51 and their makes and misses were both rushed and ugly.
That’s probably not going to happen again, but the Warriors are also definitely not going to turn in a fourth quarter like they did last night, when they scored only 14 points. In other words, we’ve got a lot of really great basketball to look forward to.