Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is exactly the kind of game the Golden State Warriors win. They were playing at home, where they were 45-2, including 6-0 in the postseason, and they led 60-47 at halftime. When leading by double digits at halftime, the Warriors were an impressive 37-0 this season.
So yeah, Warriors fans probably felt pretty good after Steph Curry’s buzzer-beating three to end the first half.
But then the second half happened. The Thunder erupted for 38 points in the third quarter and limited Golden State to just 14 in the fourth.
Oklahoma City won, 108-102.
Afterward? Silence. Or something pretty close to it.
“It was quiet at ORACLE,” CSN Bay Area Warriors sideline reporter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It was quiet, and in the locker room after the game, it was really quiet. Usually the locker room is full of jokes and talking and music. The Warriors hate to lose. This is one that stung a lot, I think. (They let) the game slip way from them.”
On paper, it wasn’t a terrible game for Golden State. Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green combined for 74 points. Curry and Thompson combined for nine threes.
Oklahoma City, however, had more rebounds (52-44), fewer turnovers (14-11) and shot almost twice as many free throws (32-17) as Golden State. During a nearly 10-minute stretch in the third and fourth quarters, the Warriors shot 0-of-9 from three-point range, had zero assists and scored just 10 points. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, erupted for 28 points to take control.
“They just let the game slip away,” Gold-Onwude said of the Warriors, “and the (Thunder’s) stars made plays.”
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 53 points, 16 rebounds, 15 assists and 10 steals. They scored or assisted on 78 of Oklahoma City’s 108 points.
Curry may be the MVP, but on Monday, Durant and Westbrook were the two best players on the floor.
That cannot be the case Wednesday in Game 2. Not if the Warriors hope to win this series, anyway.
Gold-Onwude said that Golden State, which hasn’t lost back-to-back games all season, is trying to remain positive and focus on the task at hand.
“(They were saying) this could be a good lesson for us. This could be a good moment for us to get punched in the mouth and have to respond, to have some adversity and have a tough time,” she said. “The Warriors, if you remember last year, have dealt with tough times. They went down 2-1 in a couple of series last year in the playoffs (against Memphis and Cleveland), so this isn’t a team that’s unfamiliar with being down and fighting back. It’s also a very mental thing, too. Once you win the next one at home, suddenly the series is tied and it feels like level playing ground. Certainly the Warriors have to come out swinging. Their back has been put against the wall a little bit.”