Pick: Warriors in 5 games Reasoning: The Warriors were 3-0 with a plus/minus of +23 against the Thunder in the regular season. While the Thunder impressed against the Spurs, the Warriors will prove to be too much to handle. Steph, Draymond, Klay and company are historically great. The Thunder have two offensive juggernauts in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but their defense isn't strong enough to truly challenge the Warriors.
Pick: Thunder in 6 games Reasoning: Part of this is being contrarian, as the Warriors would still have to be considered the favorites. But all season, when the Thunder and Warriors have played it has been a slug fest. The Thunder are one of the few teams with the concentrated firepower to exchange blows with Golden State when they are in fire away mode. The Warriors kill teams with their versatility in playing big or small, but the Thunder also have role players that let them go big (Steven Adams/Serge Ibaka at 4/5) or small (Ibaka or Kanter at 5 with Durant at 4) and field viable line-ups. Plus, the Thunder just have a chip on their shoulders, and have proven they can go into hostile, unwinnable environments and win. I'll stand out on the limb and say they can steal a game (or two) on the road early, then close it out at home in Game 6.
Pick: Warriors in 5 games Reasoning: The Thunder looked great in the Conference semis, but I thought the Spurs looked incredibly old and slow, especially as the series went on. The Warriors have none of San Antonio's weaknesses, and they also had the best regular season of all time. They get the advantage in home court, coaching, depth, intangibles, defense, shooting, etc... I love Russ and KD, but Russ will have to guard one of Curry or Klay for most of this series, which should be a disaster, and will tire him out, leading to him settling for threes in the second half of games. If Billy Donovan continues to give Roberson significant minutes, the Warriors will flex their intellectual advantage and leave him wide a** open all series long, with his defender serving as a rover or space filler in the lane. I'd pick the Thunder over the Cavs, but the Warriors are the obvious pick for a reason.
Pick: Warriors in 6 games Reasoning: OKC is playing arguably its best basketball of the season right now, and I think the Thunder are able to grab one of the first two games in Oakland. If guys like Waiters and Adams continue to play at a high level, OKC could give Golden State some trouble; if not, the Warriors have proven time and again that at full strength they're too sound defensively to be beaten by one or two players.
Pick: Warriors in 5 games Reasoning: I'm taking the Warriors over the Thunder in five games, and not necessarily because I think the Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combination will outduel Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant showed little mercy for Kawhi Leonard in the second round, and in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he continued his scoring rampage against the Warriors, even with another elite perimeter defender in Andre Iguodala awaiting him. Instead, it's ultimately going to be the Warriors' ability to limit complementary guys -- particularly Steven Adams -- that I think will be the difference. After averaging just 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in the regular season, Adams made the perennially ageless Tim Duncan look every bit of his 40 years, finishing with double-doubles in the last three contests and shooting 70 percent overall during the series. Though he's nursing what appears to be a minor hip injury, the comparably sprier Andrew Bogut should have more success stymieing Adams, and Adams, Enes Kanter, and Serge Ibaka could be exposed when Steve Kerr runs Draymond Green as his small-ball center, an option the Spurs didn't really have at their disposal when Duncan struggled. Even if Curry and Thompson both endure a few rough shooting nights along the way, the Warriors boast a considerably deeper and more diverse supporting cast than the Thunder, and that should prove instrumental in preventing the kind of fluky big games from non-stars like Adams, Kanter, Andre Roberson and Dion Waiters that are often key to underdogs pulling off upsets in the playoffs.
Pick: Warriors in 5 games Reasoning:
Many people are expecting this series to be close, but not me. In the regular season, the Warriors won all three matchups against Oklahoma City and averaged nearly 120 points a game. Many people forgot about how good Andre Iguodala played defensively against LeBron James in last years Finals and he very well may be a secret key in this series against Kevin Durant. Not to mention, this is one of very few teams that have a better point guard than the Thunder and now that Steph Curry is healthy, he'll likely go HAM on this bad Oklahoma City defense. Many people look at the Thunder as a true threat after beating the Spurs, but they're forgetting that this is a Warriors team that didn't lose back-to-back games all season and are improved from their championship team from last year.
Pick: Thunder in 7 games Reasoning: This series is going to be amazing. The Thunder were impressive, growing a killer mentality to finishing off San Antonio in six. They looked completely different than the regular season squad that struggled in the 4th quarter. And dare I say that Sam Prestiís moves to get Enes Kanter, Dion Waiters and Randy Foye are finally paying off!?! I canít believe I just typed that. Will Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, Kanter, Waiters and even Foye be able to punish the Golden State defense when they pay too much attention to Westbrook and Durant? And can Westbrook play vicious defense on Curry and Thompson while still being an offensive terror? Can Durant do the same with Draymond Green? I originally thought ďnoĒ, but then I watched OKC finish off the Spurs. My heart says OKCís time has finally come. Iím falling for the recency effect.
That all said, I canít let the Spurs season end without a little more Pop. Hereís his final 2015-16 season press conference after the Game 6 loss. ďOh, I dunno know, Iím not that smartĒ and ďYou coaching now?Ē are just a few of the gems:
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