Thunder-Warriors: What to watch for

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Thunder-Warriors: What to watch for

For the second time in 11 days, the Warriors take on theOklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena. The last time these teams played onJan. 27 the Warriors hung in for a while but OKC turned it on in the fourthquarter for the victory.The Warriors are coming off a disappointing overtime loss toSacramento on Saturday, while the Thunder turned back the Trail Blazers inPortland on Monday night.Here are some things to watch for:
Contain the stars: After the Thunders120-109 win over the Warriors on the 27th, Golden State coach MarkJackson expressed disappointment in his teams effort level, particularly thebig men.But it was Oklahoma Citys two stars Kevin Durant andRussell Westbrook who were most responsible for that victory. Durant had 37points and Westbrook 28 points and 11 assists. Each of those players shot 50percent from the floor, too, which meant they were pretty darnefficient.If the Warriors hope to knock off the Thunder on Tuesday,theyre going to need to turn both Durant and Westbrook into volumeshooters.Limit turnovers: The bottom line is thebackcourt of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis have to be a lot better when itcomes to taking care of the ball. That backcourt tandem averages 13 assists andseven turnovers per game between them, and thats not good enough.In the last meeting between the teams, Curry and Ellis combined for 12 turnovers and seven assists.Rebound better: In the teams lastmeeting, OKC outrebounded the Warriors 53-34.In that game, Warriors center Andris Biedrins played just 10minutes and grabbed one rebound. Still, Biedrins is the best Warrior when itcomes to rebounds per minute and it only makes sense for Biedrins to play moreagainst Oklahoma City on Tuesday if rebounding is an issue again.Response from starters: Jackson has beencritical of his starters in recent days and in two of the last three games heallowed the substitutes to finish up games.STEINMETZ: Warriors' second unit, Mark Jackson both defensive
Jackson is clearly looking for more energy from that firstunit, and with the Thunder having played Monday night in Portland it shouldntbe hard to tell if the starters deliver for him.

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

PORTLAND -- Four games, four quarters to each and the Warriors are on to the next round of the postseason.

Here are four things we learned about these Warriors in the wake of their four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

IT’S A TEAM THING: The Warriors lost All-Star forward Kevin Durant in Game 1, came back and won Game 2. They lost head coach Steve Kerr before Game 3, went out and fashioned one of the biggest comebacks in franchise postseason history. They are constructed in such a way that the collective is strong enough to overcome the loss of one man. They won this series in a walk despite being shorthanded for the last three games and without their head coach for the last two. This team and this staff are bigger than any individual.

JAVALE McGEE MATTERS: By last Sept. 16 the summer was all but gone and every coveted player NBA player had been accounted for. That’s when the Warriors signed McGee with the hope that he could provide some length and athleticism on the block, if only for a few minutes a night -- and, surely, some nights not at all. McGee was the last man to make the team, and here he was dominating a Trail Blazers team that, to be fair, lacked a healthy center. He was special in this series, and what he provides will be needed as the Warriors move forward.

DRAYMOND’S VALUE IS BEYOND MEASURE: There were so many examples during the regular season that illustrated Draymond Green’s significance to the Warriors. He topped them all in this series. He defended, at some point, every member of the Portland team. He rebounded. He made 3-pointers. He blocked 17 shots. The Blazers tried him early but quickly become discouraged at attacking whenever he was on the court. He disrupted their offense in more ways than they could have imagined. As a bonus, he avoided notable run-ins with officials.

SPLASHING NOT NEEDED: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were fabulous in the second half of Game 3 and Curry stood out in Game 4. But by the time the Splash Brothers found their offensive groove, the Warriors were up 2-0 in the series and rallying behind their defense en route to taking Game 3. The battle of the backcourts, logically deemed a critical factor in this series, was a virtual statistical standoff. Curry/Thompson combined for 192 points, while Damian Lillard 111 and CJ McCollum totaled 201. If it’s the numbers are that close, the Warriors will win every series, and probably sweep.

 

Instant Replay: Warriors torch Blazers, complete first-round sweep

Instant Replay: Warriors torch Blazers, complete first-round sweep

BOX SCORE

PORTLAND -- Never allowing the Trail Blazers to find an offensive rhythm, the Warriors rolled to a 128-103 Game 4 triumph Monday night, completing a sweep of the first-round Western Conference playoff series.

The Warriors advance to the conference semifinals and will face the winner of the Jazz-Clippers series currently tied at two games apiece.

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, with Stephen Curry scoring 37 points to lead the way. Draymond Green totaled 21, Klay Thompson 18 and Zaza Pachulia 11. David West scored 12 points off the bench.

Kevin Durant -- making his first appearance since Game 1 -- started and added 10 points, three rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal in 20 minutes of action.

The Warriors rode white-hot shooting from deep, making 17-of-29 (58.6 percent).

The Warriors silenced the Moda Center crowd early, outshooting Portland 62.5 percent to 29.6 percent in the first quarter before going on to finish with a 53.5-percent to 38.8-percent advantage for the game.

Damian Lillard scored 34 points to lead the Trail Blazers, who were ousted from the playoffs by the Warriors for the second consecutive year.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Curry, who struggled with his shot for the majority of the series, continued the hot streak he began in the fourth quarter of Game 1.

Curry’s line: 37 points (12-of-20 shooting from the field, including 7-of-11 from beyond the arc, 6-of-7 from the line), eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals. He played 30 minutes and finished plus-29 for the game.

Curry moved into a tie with Robert Horry for ninth place on the all-time list of 3-pointers in the postseason with 261.

TURNING POINT:
The Warriors took control immediately, going up 14-0 with 8:40 left in the first quarter and pushing it to 35-9 with 4:11 left in the quarter. They led by as much as 28 in the first half.

Portland got no closer than 18 in the second quarter, and no closer than 23 after intermission.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L calf strain) was listed as questionable and upgraded to available prior to tipoff. F Matt Barnes (R foot/ankle bone bruise) and G Shaun Livingston (R index finger sprain, hand contusion) were listed as questionable and downgraded to out prior to tipoff. F Kevon Looney (L hip strain) was listed as out.

Blazers: G Allen Crabbe (L foot soreness) and G CJ McCollum (R ankle sprain) are listed as probable. C Jusuf Nurkic (L leg fracture) C Ed Davis (L shoulder surgery), C Festus Ezeli (L knee surgery) and C Jusuf Nurkic (R leg fracture) are listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT:
The Warriors now await the winner of the Clippers-Jazz first-round series. Game 1 date TBD, either April 30 or May 2.