If you watched Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals – not to mention Game 3 and parts of Game 1 – perhaps you noticed that the Thunder are getting nearly every 50/50 ball. They seem a half-step faster than Golden State, they seem more inclined to go after loose balls, and they seem like they want it more.
Is there a spark missing from the 73-win Warriors?
“Well, I think when Draymond Green and Steph Curry are 7-of-27 with 12 turnovers, you’re in deep trouble,” CSN Bay Area Warriors voice Bob Fitzgerald told Paul Nanos, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “You’ve got three All-Stars on that team. Klay Thompson played like an All-Star. Steph and Draymond did not. They’re a big part of the engine that make the Warriors run. It was just shocking the amount of turnover-giveaways and then just the shooting. To see Steph and Klay 6-of-21 on threes – this is the best shot-making team in the world. When they’re missing like that and the Thunder are getting all of that ancillary scoring from (Andre) Roberson and (Serge) Ibaka and Dion Watters, you’ve got to give it up to OKC. They’ve been a machine the last couple games.”
The Thunder beat the Warriors by a combined 52 points in Games 3 and 4, during which Curry shot 13-of-37 (35.1 percent) from the floor.
Is it possible that the reigning two-time MVP is still hurt?
“Well, I think the thing you have in sports is that everyone wants to be incredibly proud and never admit anything,” Fitzgerald said. “ I think for Steph Curry, the ankle/foot tendon in the first series, the sprained knee in the second series, the fall and elbow swelling in this series – to think that he’s 100 percent is ridiculous. For me, someone who’s watched every game of his career, does Steph have the same bounce and energy that we’ve seen all through his MVP season? No. I think he’s gotten his way through stuff a little bit, but so (have other players). At this stage of the season, there’s a lot of guys who are banged around. For Steph Curry, he’s playing through it and that’s just part of sports. That’s what you have at the end of a long year.”
Golden State must now win three straight games to advance to the NBA Finals. The Warriors were down 2-1 to Memphis and Cleveland last postseason and won three straight games both times. Being down 3-1, however, is a whole different animal.
Still, Fitzgerald has hope.
“I’ll be stunned if they don’t win Game 5 at ORACLE,” he said. “I don’t say that they win the series because only nine teams out of 241 have ever come from 3-1 down, but you can’t win three in one day. What you have to say is, ‘Hey, there’s three games to win, but two of them are at ORACLE and you’re 39-2 each of the last two years in that building.’ You already spanked Oklahoma City in Game 2, and really for over half – maybe even three-quarters – of Game 1, you were the better team. So I don’t think there’s a lack of confidence at ORACLE. I just think that OKC’s a buzz saw right now, and for the Warriors, they just have to play a lot better.”