OAKLAND – One of the strangest sights in recent Warriors history occurred the last time they played at Oracle Arena.
Dub Nation fans, greatly disappointed with what they had seen, began their exodus early in the fourth quarter of what became a 129-100 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Oct 25.
There’s virtually no chance of that happening Thursday night, when the Oklahoma City Thunder invades Oracle.
The Warriors (3-1) and Thunder (4-0) may be the league’s most entertaining matchup, and the traditional high-velocity environment will be cranked up to another level now that former OKC star Kevin Durant has joined the Warriors.
Warriors by 10.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson vs. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook’s scoring and passing and rebounding and legendary intensity has made him an early favorite to become MVP. The Warriors will focus on him because Thunder opponents must. Containing Westbrook and forcing him to become a volume shooter is a massive undertaking, but it’s also the surest path to victory.
Warriors: G Pat McCaw (L ankle sprain) is listed as doubtful. C Damian Jones (R pectoral recovery) is listed as out.
Thunder: G Cameron Payne (R foot fracture) is listed as out.
The Warriors in the spring came from a 3-1 series deficit to oust OKC from the Western Conference Finals in seven games. The Warriors last season swept three regular-season games and have won six of the last seven over the past two seasons. The Thunder last won in Oakland on April 11, 2013.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1) Though the Warriors occasionally lull themselves into a sense of security at home, which invites early deficits, don’t expect that to happen. They should get an emotional boost not only because they know this particular visiting team represents a legitimate threat but also because they’re rallying around Kevin Durant.
2) OKC, behind Westbrook, likes to play a fast tempo. So do the Warriors. But OKC is coming of a tough grinder of a win over the Clippers in LA on Wednesday night. The Warriors, off on Wednesday, should have the energy advantage. Will it show?
3) Thunder center Steven Adams often was more than enough for Andrew Bogut last season, and now he’ll match up with Zaza Pachulia. Both are physical players, but Adams is the far superior athlete, so Pachulia will need help on defense. Will the Warriors guards and wings shade toward Adams?