NBA Playoffs: Durant to dominate scoring in Oklahoma City Thunder win
Robbie Purves | May 24, 2016
Golden State Warriors @ Oklahoma City Thunder
- NBA Conference Finals
- Wednesday, May 25th
- Tipoff: 02:00 BST
- Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
Durant dominates in decisive clash
Oklahoma City Thunder come into the clash leading the series 2-1, after winning in Oakland against reigning champions Golden State Warriors on the road.
In game three, Oklahoma absolutely dismantled Golden State, thrashing the side 133-105 with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook producing some outstanding basketball.
Game one may have felt like a one-off, but match three was a real definitive statement. Billy Donovan again went for the small-ball lineup that has become en vogue in the NBA. It worked magnificently, giving the starting five a versatility and defensive solidity that troubled Warriors all night.
The increased speed of the starters stretched the Oakland outfit and transformed Thunder’s transitional play. Just like the series opener, Oklahoma dominated rebounds which allowed possession to be recycled and therefore leads to more point scoring opportunities. Donovan’s men grabbed 52 compared to Golden State’s disappointing 38.
Thunder passed the ball superbly with Durant at power forward, leaving Warriors grasping at thin air. The 2014 MVP lead the match in scoring, recording a huge 33 points and is averaging an outstanding 31.4 points a match in the last 10 clashes. Coral have ruthless scorer Durant at 3/1 to score 30 or more points in a Oklahoma win.
Teammate Russell Westbrook, meanwhile, scored 30 and supported his Thunder cohorts with a huge 12 assists.
The key to Golden State bouncing back will be reclaiming the paint, after Thunder asserted themselves with Kiwi Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka marshalling the interior defence.
Warriors are lucky to be able to select Draymond Green after his kick out at Adams’ ‘groin’. Green is key to the Californian side getting back into this series and will help in snapping their malaise.
Steph Curry is good, but not good enough to win a match by himself with his teammates playing well below their best and perhaps guilty of over-relying on Golden State’s star turn.
In Durant and Westbrook, Thunder possess two the league’s best four players and, if the Warriors’ supporting cast fail to deliver, we could see one of the NBA’s biggest ever postseason upsets.
Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers
- NBA Conference Finals
- Thursday, May 26th
- Tipoff: 01:30 BST
- Q Arena, Cleveland
LeBron drives Cavs towards Finals
Toronto Raptors held off a late Cleveland Cavaliers comeback to level the series 2-2, but now face a momentous task travelling to Cleveland.
Raptors duo Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan scored a combined 67, in a rare showing that saw the two shine at the same time in a high pressure match. However, it was Congolese big man Bismack Biyombo that grabbed the headlines, claiming a massive 14 rebounds and three eye catching blocks.
However, Toronto are poor tourists when they leave Canada and have lost four of their last five away games. Combine this with the fact that Cleveland are unbeaten at home this postseason, and the series looks certain to swing in Cavaliers’ favour.
The teams have averaged 195.8 points a match in this series and are 12/5 to reach a tally of between 192-202.
Cleveland swept both Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks en route to facing Toronto and look destined to make the Finals. Meanwhile, Raptors have struggled their way into the Conference Finals after scrappy 4-3 wins against Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.
Cavs have so many weapons, from Kevin Love and JR Smith’s sharpshooting from beyond the arc, to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James who relentlessly create and convert chances. James is determined to deliver his city a championship and has been given power that a lot of general managers don’t even have. LeBron has the final say on comings and goings, and cultivated this squad to bring out the best in him and help the team claim their first-ever title.