In what is sure to be a highly entertaining series the Defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors will face the Oklahoma City Thunder with the winner headed to the NBA Finals. The Warriors have some questions with Draymond Green suffering from minor injuries and Stephen Curry still only 2 games removed from being out with a knee injury. The Thunder come into the series in good health and fresh off an impressive semi finals series win over the San Antonio Spurs
Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook
This matchup features Curry, the two time reigning MVP and first unanimous choice in league history vs. Westbrook this seasons MVP runner up. This is one of the better matchups in NBA playoff history when you consider how both are great players while they do it in completely different ways. Curry has a game that defies logic. He is able to make 40 foot three pointers with defenders draped all over him. He has become just as deadly off the dribble creating shots for himself or teammates. Westbrook has the athleticism and raw speed that has never been seen before. He is a one-man fast break who erased all questions about his passing ability as a point guard by leading the league in assists this season. It will be interesting to see how often they defend one another as neither team will want its star player in any foul trouble but regardless it will be a fascinating matchup to watch and it should be highly entertaining.
ADVANTAGE- Warriors (The unanimous MVP has to get the nod)
Klay Thompson vs. Andre Robertson
Thompson has truly come into his own as a player. He is not just a shooter and has become an all around player capable of taking a game over at any time. He stepped his game up and averaged over 30 points per game during Curry’s 4 game absence. Robertson had a fantastic Game 6 vs. the Spurs and hope to carry that momentum into the next round.
Harrison Barnes vs. Kevin Durant
Barnes is an impressive overall athlete who can take some of the scoring load off of the backcourt from time to time. Durant is a former MVP who has played well throughout the playoffs but he will need to improve his shooting from the field in this series as he has had far too many games where he shot far below 50%.. When right he is amongst the top 10 players in the game
Draymond Green vs. Serge Ibaka
Green is the most versatile defensive player in the league and has improved so much that he is undoubtedly a top 20 player in the entire league. He has no major weakness and can do whatever his team needs to win a game. Ibaka has also made tremendous strides. He has always been amongst the elite defensively and now he has added the three point shot to fit well in this era of the “Stretch 4”.
ADVANTAGE- Golden State
Andrew Bogut vs. Stephen Adams
Bogut’s best days are behind him as he is not much of a threat on the offensive end. Adams has been borderline spectacular throughout these playoffs showing his usual great defense with a newfound offensive game. He has a great chemistry with both Durant and Westbrook and is a perfect complement to their games
The Warriors have the deeper bench and no real set rotation as to who plays off the bench from game to game. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are the two names you can bet on seeing play every night. Both are versatile and tall enough to play and defend multiple positions. The Thunder will use Dion Waiters early and often and he is often in the game down the stretch. Backup big man Enes Kanter would be a starter on the majority of teams in the league. If he plays 25 minutes you can book him for a double -double.
ADVANTAGE- Golden State (More depth as you go deeper into the bench
It should be a fantastic series featuring arguably 5 of the top 20 players in the league. The two teams and their contrasting styles should provide great basketball. The odds on the Thunder winning the series (+425 at press time) are far too good to pass up on and do not reflect how evenly matched these two teams are.
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