Warriors Raise Banner, Rain Lightning on Thunder in Tuesday Opener

Sunday, October 14, 2018 9:51 PM UTC

Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018 9:51 PM UTC

The Golden State Warriors raise another NBA championship banner on Tuesday night and then should go out and trash the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oklahoma City at Golden StateTuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)Free NBA Pick: WarriorsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The 2018-19 NBA season opens Tuesday with a terrific TNT doubleheader. The opener has the 76ers at the Celtics, and my cohort Jordan Sharp will have you covered on that. The nightcap features the Thunder at Warriors as Golden State raises its third championship banner to the Oracle Arena rafters in the past four years as well as the players getting their newest gaudy rings.

How have the Dubs done on previous banner/ring nights? To kick off the 2015-16 season, Golden State throttled the New Orleans Pelicans 111-95 behind 40 points from Steph Curry. Last year, the Warriors were upset by the Houston Rockets 122-121. Kevin Durant looked like he hit a winning baseline jumper at the buzzer, but it came just a nanosecond too late.

I actually thought we would get another Rockets-Warriors opener or maybe Lakers-Warriors – what better way to welcome LeBron James to the Western Conference? The Thunder are a solid choice, although this game will lose a ton of luster if Mr. Triple-Double Russell Westbrook can’t play. Not looking as if he will.

Golden State and Oklahoma City split four meetings last year, each going 1-1 at home.

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Russell Westbrook's status is still in question against the Warriors https://t.co/1HpZbt04cA

— The Thunder Wire (@The_ThunderWire) October 14, 2018
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Westbrook Still Rehabbing

Westbrook was dealing with some inflammation in his knee in September and had a procedure done on it. There’s just no reason for the Thunder to rush their franchise player back even though he’ll so badly want to play against the Warriors and his former teammate Kevin Durant. Last year, Westbrook averaged 25.4 points, a league-leading 10.3 assists and 10.1 rebounds, making him the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in multiple seasons. OKC had the worst offensive efficiency in the league last year when Westbrook wasn’t on the court.

The Thunder also open without swingman Andre Roberson as he had a procedure on his left knee in early October. After suffering a ruptured patellar tendon in January, Roberson appeared on track to return in November but he needed an additional surgery because a suture was causing irritation that he couldn't play through. You may not see him until after Christmas. Roberson can’t shoot a lick but is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA by far.

Oklahoma City did make a few interesting transactions this offseason in dumping Carmelo Anthony in a trade for Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder (who would start in Westbrook’s spot) and taking a flier on big man Nerlens Noel. He can’t shoot, either, but can rebound and block shots. Of course, OKC was also able to re-sign Paul George.

The Warriors stunned everyone by signing All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to a very cheap one-year deal this offseason, but Cousins isn’t close to debuting off his torn Achilles’ tendon. Anything the Dubs get from him later in the season is frankly gravy. Other than that, the Warriors are essentially the same other than losing bench guys like JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Nick Young and David West (so maybe that group is weaker).

Why change what works?

Golden State has a 328-83 (.798) record in the regular season and playoffs over the last four seasons, the best four-year winning percentage in NBA history. Some Warriors aren’t hiding the fact they badly want to threepeat this year.

  • Thunder are 1-6 ATS in the last 7 meetings in Golden State.
  • Home team is 16-6-1 ATS in the last 23 meetings.

Awful lot of points to give, but presumably OKC without its best overall player in Westbrook (update: he's out) and its top defender. Should be an even more emotional game than a normal banner/ring night for the Dubs because it's their last opener in Oakland. They are moving to San Francisco starting next season. So, we will back the Warriors for a Tuesday NBA pick.

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