Culture of Hoops

Warriors Dismantle Raptors, Look Ahead to Healthy Thunder

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Stephen Curry threw down a tremendous dunk in transition over Raptors guard Kyle Lowry for two of his 32 points, summing up the 126-105 throttling over the Eastern Conference’s top team. The Western Conference’s top dogs proved once again just how far superior their conference truly is.

Curry dished out 12 assists, grabbed five rebounds and splashed five triples to go along with his 32 points, but most impressively had zero turnovers against one of the top teams in the league. It was by far one of the young Superstar’s best games of the season. But the help was there, at it usually is for this Warriors team. Marreese Speights, who has played phenomenally off the bench, found himself in the starting lineup at the center position again due to a banged up roster of bigs. Speights did not disappoint, finishing with 26 points and eight boards.

Draymond Green notched his first career triple-double in impressive fashion, finishing with 16 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks – a full on fantasy stocking stuffer. And as usual, he was a defensive stopper and energy inducer all night. Fans were on their feet as Draymond collected that 10th board late in the fourth to seal his career night.

With a 26-5 record, the league leading Warriors have now won five straight as they head into their Monday night matchup at Oracle with the now full-strength and extremely dangerous Oklahoma City Thunder. In their last meeting Kevin Durant dropped 30 points in the first half before rolling his ankle and exiting the game. Golden State charged on to victory.

But in the two games since Durant’s return he has scored 44 and 34 points and is guaranteed to put on yet another show in Oakland, this time finishing what he started. The Thunder are 9-2 when Durant is in the lineup, but just 17-17 overall and 10th in the Western Conference. But now that Durant is back, as well as the fiery Russell Westbrook, who missed a significant amount of time himself, the Thunder are once again one of the biggest threats in the league.

OKC knows that there are no nights off and every single game counts from here on out if they intend on making a championship run. They got themselves rolling the first time Durant returned from his offseason foot injury, now they are looking to build on some continuity and do just the same this time – while hopefully staying healthy.

But the Warriors top ranked defensive unit will do all they can to not stop, but slow down the dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook. Monday night will make for one of their toughest matchups of the season and should be quite an electric playoff atmosphere in Oracle Arena.

The Warriors are a league-leading 13-1 at home while the Thunder are just 7-10 on the road. But the Thunder’s statistics are beyond skewed due to their injury plagued start, which makes this game difficult to weigh.

It is going to come down to rebounding, limiting turnovers and minimizing second chance points for the Warriors. Durant and Westbrook are going to get their 25+ regardless, so they can’t give them extra chances to hurt them even worse. With a lack of healthy centers, rebounding could be a tough task against a big Thunder team that average 46.1 rebounds per game, ranking third in the league.

The Warriors, however, rank sixth in the league in rebounding at 45.1 per game – which is astounding considering they lead the league in shooting at 48%. 35 of those rebounds come on the defensive side, ranking second in the league behind only Portland. That trend will need to continue if they want to extend their lead atop the NBA.

Follow Rich Peters on Twitter @Tricky_Roma.



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