By: Rob Botts
Spiders. Ugh. They are definitely scary but usually very small and shy unless you are wandering through the jungles of South America looking for trouble. Arachnids like to set traps by spinning their finest of webs and waiting for its next clueless victim. Most of the time these eight legged hunters lie hidden and patiently wait. Others like to show themselves in a defiant manner and let the web itself do the initial work. Both strategies involve waiting for the right opportunity. Alright, let’s transition from The National Geographic to the National Basketball Association and their own creature that spins his hoopster webs for all to see. Mr. Durantula himself, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Who is he and his baller mates waiting for exactly? A nice, big , juicy championship meal. Why those Golden State Warriors to be exact. The same Warriors who have systematically destroyed the league this year opponent by opponent. Who have the latest victims been? You know, only some of the best squads in the NBA. The Spurs, the Bulls and Cavaliers just to name a few. You heard of these guys right? Yeah, they’re pretty good. Each one of them ran into the three point shooting buzz saw from the Bay Area. They have beaten teams in every way possible. Inside with drives to the bucket or by deadly accurate perimeter jumpers. They have shredded defenses with ball movement and good solid bench play. They have stepped on the accelerator even when they already have a comfortable lead on this road to the Finals. This group of ballers have learned and honed that championship killer instinct and are aggressively applying it. But.
One of the main reasons the Golden State boys keep slicing teams up is because they score lots of points(mostly in bunches) and just explode offensively when teams get close or continue to try and hang around. You combine that with their solid defense and you’re in trouble. But, there is a squad out there who they will play the night before the super bowl(Feb 6th in Oakland) who will cause a problem for them. A BIG(Donald Trump voice and tone) problem. I realize the contest will be played in that mad house up there by the bay, but talent travels well. This team from Oklahoma City could knock these guys off for a number of reasons that other teams just don’t have. Most teams have one, maybe two reasons why they might have a shot against the Warriors. The Thunder have many reasons. Let’s jump into this multi faceted web.
First on this list is the main dude who’s got 8 long legs and one hell of a bite once he spins and wins. Kevin Durant has the entire repertoire of offensive weapons that makes the Durantula the number one reason the Warriors could go down hard to the Thunder. He can take you inside, outside and can just murder you in the mid range game. Kevin really likes the foul line fadeaway in particular. Sometimes off of just one leg for kicks. Defensively he doesn’t have the quickest feet, but he’s got long shot changing limbs. He also is clutch when he needs to be clutch. This is a former MVP who is a scoring machine. When Kevin gets hot he can be on par with the current MVP Stephen Curry in sizzling shot making ability from deep.
The next reason would be the angriest dude in the league. If the Incredible Hulk played basketball, he would have nothing on this guy. He’s not mad at you or me. Just anybody who is in his way or if you happen to be the rim itself. We are talking about one of, if not the best point guard in the league, Mr. Russell Westbrook. He attacks the rim on a regular basis with speed and strength while also pulling up for swishing jumpers. Westbrook also has incredible lateral speed with quick hands that make for a very frustrating night for the opponent he happens to be checking. He also tends to get inside the heads of the other team. His loud and demonstrative style can get a dude off of his game and play in way that he might not normally play. Advantage Westbrook and in turn, advantage Thunder.
Both of these guys are going to be absolute handfuls for the guys checking them on Golden State. Whether it is Curry, Thompson, Iguodala or Green trying to slow them down, it is going to take Herculean efforts with a bit of luck mixed in. The effort they will need to put in could zap their offensive output that is their trademark. Really slow their normally pinpoint passing and have them maybe playing a tad faster than they normally like to play. Guarding these guys could really kill their long range shooting percentages along with possibility getting them into foul trouble. These two can put pressure on this team that they just haven’t felt yet this season.
Oklahoma City also have other big guys like Enes Kanter and Steven Adams who are gonna bang, bang and then bang some more down low. Front court Warriors Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli will have his hands full with their strength and speed coming at them from both sides. Then you have the athletic Serge Ibaka flying in for offensive rebounds and hitting that mid range jumper. These guys make for a very busy and challenging painted area for the Golden State front court.
The Warriors are in excellent physical and mental condition this year with a supreme sense of confidence. That confidence born from a championship, multiple long winning streaks and from their MVP’s continual evolution into the best player in the game. But the team sitting quietly in their webbed, Oklahoma City lair, waiting to pack their games and head west, is the perfect ambush opponent to take them down in a way that might just have the Warriors thinking twice the next time they square off.