Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
VIDEO: Relive the last Thunder vs. Warriors matchup
> It’s a Thunder-Warriors rematch Thursday night (10:30 ET on TNT). Who’s more in need of a victory here, the Warriors to keep their 73-win season hopes alive? Or the Thunder, to show they can actually beat this Warriors squad?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Oklahoma City needs this way more than Golden State. The Warriors only have to go 19-4 the rest of the way to break the Bulls’ record for best regular season, and you’ll notice that I didn’t put “only” in quotation marks because 54-5 makes 19-4 seem pretty darn breezy. But the Thunder have gotten 130 points from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in two games against Golden State — and lost. They limited the Warriors to 7-of-26 on 3-point attempts their first meeting — and lost. They held them to 103 points through four quarters, 12 below average, in the second meeting — and lost, giving up 18 in five minutes of OT. OKC needs some positive reinforcement, fast, to carry with it should the teams meet in the postseason.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: You don’t ever “need” to break a record. And things do have a way of changing once the playoffs begin. But I think the Thunder would like to show themselves that they can close the deal on the Warriors.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The Thunder. Golden State can keep its hope for 73 alive even with a loss. It starts to become a mental thing for OKC, though, if the losses in the series pile up. Not that the Thunder should want to see the Dubs in the playoffs either way.
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: For so many reasons, the Thunder need this more. Even though they’ve played the Warriors close this season, their confidence mainly is at stake. To be able to crack the mystique of the Warriors, even for one night, might go a long way. As for the Warriors, their remaining schedule, loaded with home games, will still give them a solid chance at 72-plus wins.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It’s more important to Oklahoma City. The Warriors want 73 wins and that mark would obviously cement their place as one of the best teams in NBA history, but they know who they are, one loss isn’t going to break their stride, and winning a championship is still more important than winning 73 games. With Kevin Durant’s contract situation, this has been a critical season in the Thunder, who need to show their star that they can compete for a championship this year or in the near future. Saturday’s loss at home had to be pretty deflating for OKC, who are clearly on a tier below Golden State and San Antonio. A win over the champs, especially in the building where they’ve won 43 straight regular season games, would be a huge boost of confidence for OKC, and give Durant reason to believe that his team can compete with the champs in a seven-game series.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I think the Thunder need the win more, just to prove to themselves that they can finish the job against the team that has overtaken them as the next big thing in the Western Conference and the league. (Remember, just a few years ago, the Thunder were supposed to be the team of this decade). Win or lose, the Warriors still have 73 in their sights.
Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: This outcome is going to directly impact the Warriors’ pursuit of the regular-season record. But it will neither enhance nor diminish OKC’s chances in the playoffs. Whatever happens in the postseason is going to be influenced by injuries and the unique dynamic of a seven-game series. So if the 73-win season means something to the Warriors, then that makes this rematch more important to them.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: At this point, the Warriors have nothing left to prove. They might finish with 73 wins, or 70 wins, or whatever — we are certain that they’re one of the greatest teams in NBA history. I know the Thunder have played the Warriors pretty well in two games this season, narrowly losing both, and I think they could use a W against the Warriors for their own good, so they know that they can not just play them close but have what it takes to knock them off.