OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The Oklahoma City Thunder have valuable experience bouncing back from disaster.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, the San Antonio Spurs rolled past the Thunder by 32 points. Oklahoma City responded by beating the Spurs in San Antonio 98-97 the next game, and the Thunder eventually took the series 4-2.
The Thunder seized homecourt in the Western Conference Finals against Golden State by winning Game 1 before the Warriors responded by blowing past them 118-91 in Game 2. The Thunder will try to recover again Sunday as the series shifts from Oakland to Oklahoma City.
“Yeah, it helps a little bit with our confidence just knowing that we’ve been in this position before,” Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. “It’s not foreign land to us. But last series – we can’t really worry about that too much. We’ve got to focus on who we’ve got in front of us right now. We know it’s easier said than done. Just because we did it last time, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to happen again.”
The Thunder remain in an ideal position. Hold serve at home, and they will return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012.
“We know they’re going to come here and try to steal one,” Thunder guard Dion Waiters said. “As long as we take care of home court advantage and do what we’re supposed to do and leave everything out there, then we’ll be fine.”
The Warriors realize winning at Chesapeake Energy Arena won’t be easy. The Thunder are 36-11 at home this season, including the playoffs, in the building nicknamed “Loud City.”
“It’s definitely one of the loudest venues in the league,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Fans have a lot to cheer about the last six, seven years. It’s a great venue. It will be a lot of fun to be there facing a great team on their home floor. That’s the best challenge there is. I think our guys are up for the challenge.”
In their only regular-season meeting in Oklahoma City, the Warriors needed Steph Curry’s dramatic 37-foot 3-pointer to beat the Thunder 121-118 in overtime. Curry scored 46 points that night, tied an NBA record with 12 made 3-pointers and set the single-season record for made 3s in a season. The shot was a defining moment in Curry’s run to his second straight MVP award.
“It’s a big shot, a big play, a very eventful night overall for a lot of different reasons,” Curry said. “To get that win meant a lot. Just having been down in that game, claw our way back, and the way we even got into overtime. Regular-season wise that was a big win for us and a big shot. But it doesn’t mean anything going back there for the playoffs.”
The Warriors are confident, having posted the league’s all-time best regular-season road mark at 34-7 this season. Oklahoma City’s Game 1 win makes Game 3 more urgent for Golden State.
“They did their job,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “They came and won one. When you’re going on the road in the playoffs, your motto is always go win one game, and they did that. Now it’s up to us to do our job and go win one game and try to take home-court advantage back. Game 3 will be important. It’s not the end all, be all, but it’s a game we want to win.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.