The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors face off for Game #1 of their Round 3 2016 NBA Playoff Series. We have your NBA pick for this exciting game!
OKC and Golden State faced each other 3 times this season. Golden State won all 3 contests by margins of 15, 3, and 8 points. The most intriguing of those results came in the 3 point win at OKC on February 7th. Though Golden State won that contest 121-118, they were outrebounded by a thunderous margin of 62-32. That clearly speaks to OKC’s rebounding ability.
The Thunder were the NBA’s top rebounding team by a substantial margin at +8.4/game. That was more than twice any other team! The interior combination of Adams, Ibaka and Durant, along with Westbrook from his guard position, provide them with this dominant edge.
OKC is playing their best ball of the season. After handling Dallas in 5 games, they were soundly thrashed by San Antonio in Game #1 of the next series. In fact, they trailed the Spurs 2 games to 1 after beating San Antonio in Game #2 but losing home court advantage with a loss to the Spurs in Game #3.
After that, it was all Thunder as they swept the final 3 games in the series from the Spurs including a dominant 113-99 win in the 7th game last Thursday night. That leaves them well rested in their quest for triple revenge against the defending champions as well as a Game #1 victory. But the OKC 27-19 road record in no way compares to the 44-2 home mark of Golden State.
Though OKC was beaten 3 times in the regular season, they will not be threatened by this post season experience, for the Thunder have been in the Western Conference Finals 4 times in 6 years. Though it may seem unlikely that first year HC Donavan will lead OKC to the title, that is exactly what his bench opponent, Steve Kerr, did in his rookie year as coach of Golden State.
For Golden State, there are some injury concerns. Starting Center Bogut has a muscle strain in his upper right leg and will be a game time decision. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry said Sunday that his injured knee hasn’t improved much in the past week and that it will just be about “pain tolerance”.
Nonetheless, he expects to handle his regular work load. If OKC is to return to the championship series, much of it will come on the defensive side where Klay Thompson will be asked to contain OKC point guard Westbrook. The triple/double playoff machine has done whatever it takes to lead the Thunder. History, however, says that Golden State is up to the task.
.650 or better home teams have been a better than 68% play in Game #1 of any series with 5 or more days rest when not favored by 12 or more points. With that in mind and the benefit of their strong home court and fan base, we will back the defending champs for their own Thunderous victory in Game #1 of this series.
Free NBA Pick: Warriors -160
Best Line Offered: at Heritage