Posted on May 17, 2016 by Travis Pulver
Western Conference Finals Game One Recap: A Tale Of Two Halves
After the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder finished the first half of Game One of the Western Conference Finals it appeared as if the series was going to start how most people thought it would. The Warriors had a 13-point lead, Russell Westbrook had all of three points to his name, and Kevin Durant was well on his way to building a brick house big enough for a family of four.
Had they folded at the half no one would have been shocked, but there is a reason why the game has two halves. Just because the first didn’t go so well for the Thunder that doesn’t mean the second will be the same—and it wasn’t.
Westbrook put the team on his back in the third quarter with a 19-point effort to help the Thunder cut the deficit to three at the start of the final period. He went on to have 24 of his 27 points in the second half along with 12 assists and seven steals to lead the Thunder to a 108-102 win.
With Golden State’s ability to blow a game up at any moment, the Thunder still had their work cut out for them. They didn’t end up scoring much in the final period (23), but thanks to a stellar defensive effort and uncharacteristically bad shooting by the Warriors it was enough.
Golden State could only muster 14 points down the stretch on 6-23 shooting from the field that included a dismal 1-10 from behind the arc.
“I mean, you hear it all the time, defense wins,” Durant told the media after the game. “We get stops, and if we don’t score, we try not to let the other team score. So we miss shots, that’s going to happen, and that’s part of being who we are as leaders of this team. We miss shots. But we just stayed with it on the defensive end, and I think when we got the shots late in the game, we were able to focus in and knock them down.”
While Westbrook had a good second half, his shot—as well as Kevin Durant’s—was off all night. Durant was 10-30 on the evening while Westbrook was only 7-21. Thanks to a great defensive effort, the Warriors stars didn’t do any better. Steph Curry was 9-22 from the field and only hit 6-14 from three-point range. Klay Thompson as 11-25 and only 3-8 from behind the arc.
Like many other games during the postseason this year, this one will be tarnished with another ref controversy. Late in the game, it appeared as if Russell Westbrook may have traveled as he crossed half court with 17 seconds left. Instead of calling a foul, the refs awarded him a timeout. He was fouled by Andre Iguodala on the next possession, made one of two free throws, and effectively put the game out of reach.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged the non-call afterward but didn’t dwell on it.
“I thought he walked, but it wasn’t called, so that’s the way it goes,” Kerr said after the game.
NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia later stated that the call should have been made:
“The officials, no one could get in a good position to see him drag that pivot foot. It’s an unfortunate miss, but so much going on in the play, the speed of it, and officiating is about getting angles and sometimes you just can’t get them, and they did not get a great angle on that play.”
Losing at home sucks, but Curry and the Warriors are not going to let it get them down:
“It’s not a good feeling losing Game 1, especially at home,” Curry said following the loss. “It’s fun to… show what we’re made of.”
Game Two will be Wednesday at 9 PM ET in Oakland.