OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were in step, some-more so figuratively than ever before, and this time utterly literally as they walked divided from a remains that were a Golden State Warriors’ hopes of a well-spoken run to back-to-back championships.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s energetic twin did not lift their arms, siphon their fists or behind behind their heads and scream to applaud their 108-102 feat in a Western Conference finals opener. A discerning five, a daub on a chest from Westbrook to Durant and they were on their way, as professional as Stockton and Malone.
They weren’t beautiful, though they were balanced. Sure, Durant and Westbrook missed 34 shots between them. They also had scarcely matching scoring outputs, with 27 points from Westbrook and 26 from Durant. Durant kept revelation his teammates all they indispensable to do to win this game. Westbrook kept expending all of his appetite to give a Thunder each probable chance. Leadership in opposite ways, care they’re some-more able than ever of providing.
“They both have only grown … as distant as only apropos men,” pronounced Thunder backup large male Nazr Mohammed, who played his initial army in Oklahoma City in 2011 and 2012. “I mean, they’re adults.”
They’ve grown to a indicate that Mohammed will acknowledge his maestro viewpoint isn’t as indispensable as it was before, when a Thunder brought in aged heads such as himself, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler to supplement gifted voices in a locker room. Durant and Westbrook can hoop that themselves now. In fact, they can even yield superintendence to their rookie coach, Billy Donovan, as they go by their fourth discussion finals while he practice his first.
Donovan devoted their visualisation when it came to second-half personification time. Westbrook told him he indispensable only a discerning breather, so he sat out for 4 minutes. Durant told Donovan to leave him in a whole third and fourth quarters, assured that he could accumulate his breeze during a extended timeouts.
“Did we look tired?” Durant asked behind to a query about his fatigue.
Well, he did skip 8 of his initial 11 shots in a fourth quarter, some of them far-reaching open. Durant wouldn’t accept skip of appetite as an excuse. If anything, he felt his final open skip was too strong.
Staying with Enes Kanter took a tiny some-more conviction. The Warriors lured Enes Kanter into switches; whoever was guarding him went on a attack. The net result: Oklahoma City was outscored by 7 points during his five-minute army in a initial half, and his plus-minus dipped as low as minus-12 in a second half before he started grabbing rebounds, removing a few buckets and contributing to a comeback. He finished in certain territory.
Donovan was personification a prolonged game, meditative he didn’t wish to mangle Kanter’s certainty in Game 1 and remove him for a rest of a series. The aged observant is that discerning guys get tired, though large guys don’t get small. The Thunder wore down a Warriors, thwarted their every-man-pitch-in proceed to volatile and eventually won a house conflict 52-44. They hold a Warriors to 14 points and 1-for-10 3-point sharpened in a fourth quarter, when OKC finished off a quip from a 14-point necessity that began with a 38-point third quarter.
“They have a flattering large lineup that they can chuck out there and do a lot of switching and take we out of certain reads,” pronounced Stephen Curry, who wound adult with 26 points. “They didn’t make too many mistakes on a defensive end, that forced us into some tough shots.”
The Thunder overcame their early mistakes, such as turnovers and bad edge defense. They overcame 20 missed shots by Durant. They negated a 18-win differential in a unchanging deteriorate that had supposing a Warriors home-court advantage in this series.
“We’re a volatile group,” Durant said. “We only keep fighting ’til a end. We’re adhering to who we are as a team.”
This is a Thunder right now, frequently recording a many considerable victories of these playoffs. This is Durant and Westbrook right now, improved than they’ve ever been in their 8 years together.