#3 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #1 Golden State Warriors, Game 1 (9pm ET Monday, TNT)
While the Warriors made short work of the scrappy but clearly overmatched Trail Blazers, the Thunder went to war with the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the seventh-most wins in NBA history, leading to the strongest conference finals matchup in at least 20 years, according to fivethirtyeight.com. If the Thunder can keep playing they way they did in the last three games of their series with the Spurs, OKC vs. GSW is gonna be a classic.
Both Western Conference Finalists overcame very different, but equally daunting obstacles in their previous series: The Thunder were humiliated in Game 1 of their series against the Spurs, falling 124-92 before coming back to win 4 of the next 5 to advance to the Conference Finals. The Warriors, meanwhile, survived the first three games of their series against Portland without the services of Steph Curry, only to have him return for Games 4 and 5, in which he scored 40 and 29 points, respectively.
The Thunder and Warriors met three times in the span of four weeks late in the regular season, with Golden State winning all three by an average of 10 points a game, despite being outrebounded 53-39. One of those defeats was among the most knee-buckling of the regular season, as the Warriors fought back from a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to tie it, and then Steph Curry drained a 30-footer with .6 seconds for the win in OT.
Kevin Durant was a beast in the San Antonio series, but Russell Westbrook has shot 32% in the Thunder’s playoff losses, 45% in their wins – he needs to find his shot if OKC’s gonna make this happen. The Thunder will also need to keep getting big minutes from Steven Adams, who’s been averaging 10-10 this postseason. Golden State just needs Curry to stay on his feet.