Thunder-Warriors: What to watch for

Thunder-Warriors: What to watch for
January 27, 2012, 7:58 pm
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PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors Pregame Live starts tonight at 7, followed by Warriors-Thunder at 7:30, and Warriors Postgame Live at 10 -- all on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

The Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday,allowing them to put a couple ugly losses to Indiana and Memphis behindthem. Now, though, if theyre serious about making a move, is the time tobuild.Only issue is that here come the Oklahoma City Thunder,owners of the NBAs best record at 15-3.Here are some things to watch for when the Warriors play theThunder Friday night at Oracle:

Curry-Westbrook matchup: RussellWestbrook is considered one of the best point guards in basketball, but StephenCurry has done just fine against him during their short careers. For whateverreason, Westbrook usually struggles against Golden State. Last year he shot31.1 percent (14-for-45) in threegames against the Warriors. Whatever Curry is doing against Westbrook, heshould keep it up.Durant factor: Kevin Durant is the earlyMVP favorite and he needs to be accounted for on the floor. Over the years, theWarriors have tried many defenders on Durant including Monta Ellis.The key isnt to shut down Durant. The key is to turn himinto a volume shooter.Size matters: The Thunder start a big,physical frontline in Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. If the Warriors dontaccount for them on the glass, theres a good chance this will be a one-sidedgame tonight.Warriors coach Mark Jackson has preferred to go small infourth quarters, using David Lee at the center position. If Jackson does thattonight, hell need to monitor the interior play and make sure things dont getout of hand.Bench play: The Warriors continue to getsolid play from their bench, particularly Brandon Rush. The Thunder, though,have a sixth-man of the year candidate in James Harden, a player who wouldstart on most teams. Harden is another player who must be accounted forwhenever he is in the game.Sefalosha factor: Portlands long twoguard Nicolas Batum did a verynice job against Monta Ellis on Thursday, holding Ellis to 2-for-9 shooting. Onthe other hand, Ellis didnt force the issue and wound up handing out 12assists.Thabo Sefolosha is the same kind of defender long and lanky as Batum. It will be interesting to see how Ellis handles Fridays challenge.

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