Posted on May 25, 2016 by Travis Pulver
There were some who thought it could happen and now that it may, there will likely be many who will claim they predicted as much–the Golden State Warriors are going to lose the Western Conference Finals. With 73 regular season wins, it was not unreasonable for experts and fans to pick them to make it back to the NBA Finals, but it is now looking like it is not going to happen.
Instead, it is going to be the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Game Four Tuesday night was much like Game Three was Sunday night. The Thunder got rolling early while effectively shutting down whatever offense the Warrior attempted to mount. By the time the first half ended, the Thunder were up by 19 points, 72-53, and it wasn’t looking good at all. Klay Thompson and Steph Curry couldn’t buy a shot, and Draymond Green wasn’t much of a factor either.
But the defending champs are the champs for a reason. They have the skill and talent to get it done when their backs are against the wall. For a time, it looked like they might be able to. Kay Thompson found his shot in the third period and scored 19 of his 26 points to bring the Warriors within six at one point—but that was as close as they got.
At the start of the final period, the Warriors were down by 12. It was a deficit they could easily overcome but never came close. Oklahoma City took control of the game and outscored Golden State 24-12 in the fourth to make the final score 118-94.
With the win, the Thunder move within a game of making it back to the NBA Finals for the first time since the Miami Heat beat them four games to 1 in 2012 Finals.
After the game, the Warriors said everything you would expect them to say—that the series is far from over.
“The series isn’t over,” Curry told the media after the game. “We’ve got to believe in ourselves. There’s obvious frustration. It’s a terrible feeling once again not stepping up and being ourselves and playing our game.
“But I think we’re a special team. This isn’t how we’re going to go out.”
They are going to need a little more than positive vibes to get back in the series. Green admitted to playing a terrible game (1-7 from the field, six point, 11 rebounds, and six turnovers)—but he wasn’t the only one. Thompson salvaged his night with a good third period but was only 4-11 from behind the arc. Steph Curry’s game was pretty bad as well (6-20, 2-10 from three-point range, 19 points, and six turnovers). Five of his missed three-pointers were uncontested, open shots.
Along with their offensive woes, they have to figure out how to slow down the Thunder scoring machine. Oklahoma City became the first time since the 1987 Los Angeles Lakers to score 72 in the first half of back-to-back postseason games.
In both games, Russell Westbrook was virtually unstoppable. He followed up a 30-point effort in Game Three with his fifth career postseason triple-double (36 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists).
The series will continue with Game Five Thursday night in Oakland. If Steph Curry can’t find his shot and the Warriors can’t slow Westbrook down, fans should not expect to see a Game Six.