Tale of Two Halves

Game one of the Oklahoma City Thunder – Golden State Warriors series was a tale of two halves. It started out with the Thunder not able to take care of the ball in the first half and then the turnover bug hit the Warriors. Besides the turnovers, the Thunder’s Steven Adams protected the paint. All of this added up to the Thunder stealing game one on the road.

The Warriors started the game by building a 13 point first half lead behind some strong defense and the hot hand of Klay Thompson. The Warriors were able to harass the Thunder into 10 first half turnovers for 15 points, four from Kevin Durant. In the play below Durant comes off of a ball screen set by Adams but tries to dribble through traffic. Iguodala is able to reach around and poke the ball free. Leandro Barbosa corralled the ball and pushed it ahead to Iguodala for a quick two points.

The first half was all about the Warriors; they had 28 points in the paint and 22 fast break points to build up that 13 point lead going into halftime. TNT aired part of Billy Donovan’s pep talk to the Thunder before the second half and his main point was stay within the system and they’ll chip away at the lead and chip away they did.

The Thunder’s defense picked up the intensity in the second half, forcing the Warriors to shoot 36.4% from the field. Adams was a very strong presence as a rim protector. Besides blocking two shots he altered these two layup attempts down the stretch to keep the pressure on the Warriors. In the first play Draymond Green tries to drive on him in transition and he forces him into a tough reverse layup that Green misses. Then Thompson drives on him and Adams is able to stay with him step for step, once they get to the rim Thompson has to attempt a high degree of difficulty shot and he too misses.

Some of the Warriors’ problems in the game were self-inflicted. They had seven second half turnovers, four from Steph Curry. Who at times was too casual with the ball and threw some passes without looking. In the first play below, he cuts through the lane and while in mid-air tries to force a pass to Green and in the second clip he misses a wide-open Iguodala on the baseline. These turnovers killed any chance of them trying to crawl back into this game.

If the series will be as close as game one both teams will need to sharpen their skills. Although the Thunder came away with a win they cannot rest on their laurels. Durant cannot have 5 turnovers in a game and the team must execute better down the stretch of games. The Warriors will have to come back from their first home loss in these playoffs with more discipline and Curry will need to handle the ball with more care. Down 0-1, they cannot afford to head to Oklahoma City in a deeper hole.

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