Like it or not, it is time to acknowledge that Oklahoma City is a dangerous team that is ready to silence its critics.
Game 2 of the Western Conference finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder is on Wednesday night and it’s live at 9 pm ET on TNT Network and TNT Overtime.
The Thunder took Game 1 on the road, 108-102 to silence the ORACLE Arena, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the way for the visitors.
So are the Golden State Warriors really in trouble?
Reigning two-time MVP Stephen Curry and the champs doesn’t think so, but there are many, including ESPN’s Stephen A Smith, who believe the defending champions must step-up and take care of business in Game 2 or run the risk of losing the series in Oklahoma.
Golden State was unable to contain Durant and Westbrook, especially in the second half, as Oklahoma City erased a 14 point deficit to take the early advantage in the series.
But it is the role of the supporting cast that many are talking about – with the emerging Steven Adams, who had 16 points and 12 boards in Game 1, finding his best form in the postseason, and Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters both stepping up as well for Billy Donovan.
And for that reason, Oklahoma City must feel confident about winning Game 2.
“The other guys are playing better,” Warriors forward Draymond Green, who scored 23 points on Monday night, said.
“KD (Durant) didn’t play well last night to KD’s standards. Russ didn’t play to Russ’s standards, yet they won the game because the other guys are playing better.
“So that’s something that we’ve got to take care of and make sure that everybody else is not getting off and having really good games.”
Stephen A also had some wise words for Curry when it comes to facing the energetic Westbrook, who clearly isn’t afraid to go full guns blazing at the league’s MVP.
"You don't get to be too cool for school with Russell Westbrook. Steph Curry needs to show some damn respect." –SAShttps://t.co/u471dryxq7
— ESPN (@espn) May 18, 2016
Curry, by his own standards, struggled to shake off Westbrook in the first game, with the Warriors star guard going 9-for-22 from the field and shot a shocking 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter, including 1-for-4 from 3-point range.
He had 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, but turned the ball over seven times with a number of careless plays.
His fellow backcourt partner, Klay Thompson, despite finishing with 25 points, also struggled in the last period – missing all four of his shots in the quarter and was 0-for-3 from long range.
There are also some concerns over the fitness of Golden State center Andrew Bogut, who looked banged up in Game 1, as he clearly hasn’t recovered fully from a hip problem.
Bogut only played 17 minutes in Monday night’s Game 1 loss to Oklahoma City, and finished with no points.
The health of Bogut is of large concerns, as the Oklahoma City Thunder would have to be seen as the favourite to win the Western Conference finals if he’s not up to par.
Oklahoma City heads into Wednesday night’s game, looking to win its fourth straight road playoff games.
Come Wednesday night, Curry must limit his mistakes and take the ball, especially in the fourth quarter, while Andre Iguodala needs to come out of hiding and Shaun Livingston must step-up.