The Golden State Warriors extended their season Thursday night, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-111 to trim the Thunder’s Western Conference Finals lead to 3-2. The Warriors played like a team facing elimination, turning up their intensity on both ends of the floor.
Though the Warriors played with a sense of urgency, Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook still like the matchup, particularly the one between Westbrook and Warriors guard Steph Curry. During the postgame news conference, Durant implied that the two-time MVP isn’t a good defender, saying he doesn’t guard the NBA’s best point guards.
Though Durant said Curry doesn’t guard the league’s top guards, Curry did get a key steal against the Thunder superstar near the end of the fourth quarter. The swipe was arguably the dagger, as the Warriors went up by 10 points with about a minute left in the game.
Curry made a good defensive play there, but he certainly isn’t a world-renowned defender. And the Thunder know it. Westbrook has consistently attacked Curry during the series, using his explosiveness to blow by the reigning MVP.
For example, during Game 3, Westbrook ran down the floor in the first quarter and made a quick move to get by Curry for a fast break bucket. In this situation, the defender’s top priority is to stop the ball. Curry does not make a good effort to stop Westbrook, resulting in an easy bucket for the Thunder.
Though Curry’s defensive abilities are just decent, the Warriors are in good position to steal a Game 6 win against the Thunder on Saturday. The Warriors forced 17 turnovers during Game 5, not letting the Thunder relax on offense.
The Thunder prefer Curry guarding Westbrook on defense. Most of the time, Westbrook will use his explosiveness to score at will. But collectively, the Warriors are underrated on defense, forcing turnovers to get easy points in transition. The Thunder may not like that so much.