Billy Donovan has his team peaking at the right time.
The Thunder could always score — hello, they have Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant — but the defense and help were inconsistent. The talent on the team never felt maximized. But this team grew through the second half of the season and now, in the cauldron of the playoffs, it has cooked into an identity that is tough to beat — the Thunder are big, physical, athletic, and will wear teams down. When they are focused on defense, they can beat anybody. As they showed Monday night.
Draymond Green calls the Thunder a “completely different team” than the one the Warriors swept during the regular season. Green: “KD didn’t play well last night to KD’s standards. Russ didn’t play well last night to Russ’ standards. And yet they won the game. That’s because the other guys are playing better.”
The “other guys” starts with Steven Adams, who was a defensive force in the paint, played smart on the perimeter, crashed the glass hard, and scored 16 points. He has passed Serge Ibaka for the third key member on this team, although Ibaka certainly played well in Game 1 also.
As everyone expected, Green took responsibility for the Warriors’ loss.
Draymond Green: “I don’t think I was myself on the defensive end last night. I wasn’t flying around like I normally do. I’ve got to be better.”
What should worry Warriors fans is OKC can play better, too.