In the previous four games of the Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder had great Stephen Curry awareness but in game five they lost it. Every time they lost him, he made them pay for it. Curry finished the second half with 20 points and helped the Golden State Warriors extend their season by at least one more game.
In the previous games of this series, Curry has had a difficult time finding any sort of air space. A lot of credit has to be given to the Thunder’s defense, which has kept their discipline and haven’t given up too many open looks for Curry. That was not the case in this game. Early in the third quarter Russell Westbrook was guarding Curry who is standing at the weakside wing three. Curry catches him watching the ball and sneaks to the corner. Klay Thompson drives down the middle of the lane and hits Curry in the corner for a three. By the time Westbrook realizes Curry is not where he last left him, it’s too late.
In the next clip, Curry rejects coming off the pin down being set by Festus Ezeli and sprints to the opposite wing. Westbrook is guarding Curry but appears to switch the screen and takes Ezeli with the expectation that Adams will chase Curry to the other side of the court. The message never makes it to Adams. Curry not only gets a look at a wide-open three, but he has enough time for an espresso.
Later in the game Roberson guards Curry while Westbrook is guarding Draymond Green on the weakside. Green goes to set a weak side pin down for Curry. It appears the Thunder are supposed to switch the screen. Westbrook is too far back and Klay hits Curry on the wing. Westbrook gives a hard closeout to three to recover. Curry reads Westbrook over running the closeout and blows by him for an and-1 layup.
Those three plays cost the Thunder nine points, which happened to be the difference of the game. Attention to detail is critical in the playoffs and teams should never let their guard down, especially against the Warriors. The Thunder will need to regain that focus again to close out the Champs. In game five though, Westbrook was caught sleeping on the defensive end and this woke Curry up.
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- Photo Credit to NOAH GRAHAM/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (http://www.gettyimages.com/galleries/photographers/noah_graham)