HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — As expected, the 73-win Golden State Warriors reached the conference finals with minimal trouble. What’s unexpected is the team who’s meeting them there.
The 67-win San Antonio Spurs ran into a matchup problem that has troubled them in the past. The Oklahoma City Thunder found ways to score against the league’s best defense and came up big in close games to reach the conference finals for the fourth time in six years.
This series features the last three scoring champs and the last three MVPs. And for sure, the headlines and narratives will be about Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (with some good Draymond Green quotes thrown in). But role players will be critical, and if the Thunder can get as much from their supporting cast as they did against San Antonio, this series could be as fun as the game these two teams played on Feb. 27.
That was the game of the year. But the stakes are much higher now. The 73 wins will stand forever, but the Warriors still need eight more to repeat as NBA champions. And the next four won’t come easy.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Western Conference finals, with links to let you dive in and explore more.
Golden State Warriors (73-9)
Warriors playoff notes:
- Have recorded assists on 64.8 percent of their baskets, the highest rate in the playoffs. They also lead the postseason with 336.9 passes per game and 8.7 secondary assists per game, though all of those numbers were lower in the conference semifinals than they were in the first round.
- Have drawn 1.20 charges per game, most in the playoffs.
- Have averaged 22.7 drives per game, fewest in the playoffs.
- Have shot 51 percent and 10-for-18 from 3-point range with the score within five in the last five minutes. Curry is 7-for-9 on clutch threes.
- Are a plus-145 in 376 minutes with Green on the floor and a minus-29 in 109 minutes with him on the bench. He has contested 164 total shots, most in the postseason.
- Opponents have shot 34.1 percent at the rim when Green has been there to protect it. That ranks as the best rim protection number among players who have defended at least 5.0 shots per game at the rim.
- Have scored 123.8 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor, the highest on-court OffRtg among players who have played at least 20 minutes per game.
- Curry has used 35.3 percent of the Warriors’ possessions when he’s been on the floor, the highest usage rate in the playoffs.
- Klay Thompson has made 11 more catch-and-shoot 3-pointers than anybody else in the playoffs.
- Thompson has had an effective field goal percentage of 65 percent in the first and third quarters, but just 48 percent in the second and fourth.
- See Warriors-Rockets preview for regular season notes and Warriors-Blazers preview for first round notes.
Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
Thunder playoff notes:
- No. 1 rebounding team in the playoffs, having grabbed 55.8 percent of available boards against the Mavs and Spurs. Averaging a playoffs-high 14.8 second chance points per game.
- Only playoff team that has scored more efficiently on the road (111.9 points per 100 possessions) than at home (110.8). But their defense has been 11.3 points per 100 possessions better at home.
- Have averaged just 5.3 screen assists per game, fewest in the playoffs.
- Only team with two players in the top 10 in playoff usage rate.
- After going 3-12 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes after the All-Star break, they’re 4-2 in those games in the playoffs (and were 3-1 in the San Antonio series).
- Have scored 114.7 points per 100 possessions with both Durant and Westbrook on the floor and 120.2 with Westbrook on the floor without Durant, but just 97.2 with Durant on the floor and Westbrook on the bench.
- Westbrook leads the postseason with 10.8 assists per game, 6.1 fast break points per game, 83 shots in the restricted area, and nine double-doubles.
- Westbrook (66) and Durant (65) rank first and second in total transition points.
- Westbrook has 38 assists to Durant, 12 more than any other player has to a single teammate in the playoffs.
- Serge Ibaka has shot 53 percent (39-for-74) from outside the paint, the best mark among players with at least 50 attempts from the outside. Ibaka (51 percent), Westbrook (47 percent) and Durant (43 percent) all rank in the top eight in mid-range field goal percentage among players with at least 35 mid-range attempts.
- Enes Kanter (18.3 percent) and Steven Adams (13.1 percent) both rank in the top six in offensive rebounding percentage in the playoffs. Westbrook (7.8 percent) leads all guards in offensive rebounding percentage.
- See Thunder-Mavs preview for regular season notes and Spurs-Thunder preview for first round notes.
- Andre Roberson is the only rotation player that missed any of the three meetings with an injury. He was out for the Feb. 6 game with a right knee sprain.
- The Warriors’ effective field goal percentage of 55.9 percent was the best any team shot against the Thunder in the regular season.
- The Warriors committed just 9.5 turnovers per 100 possessions, their lowest rate against all opponents and the lowest rate any team had against the Thunder. Oklahoma City had almost twice as many turnovers (54) in the three games as Golden State (30).
- The Warriors’ offensive rebounding percentage of 15.0 percent was also their lowest mark against all opponents. They had just four offensive rebounds in each of the last two meetings.
- Curry’s 12 3-pointers in the Feb. 27 meeting in Oklahoma City, highlighted by the 37-foot game-winner, tied the all-time record more most threes in a game.
- Durant’s average of 36.3 points per game was his highest against Western Conference opponents.
- While Durant shot 10-for-21 from 3-point range, his teammates shot 10-for-47 (21 percent).
- The Thunder scored 92.6 points per 100 possessions and Durant had an effective field goal percentage of 50.0 percent with Andre Iguodala on the floor. With Iguodala on the bench, OKC scored 115.4 points per 100 possessions and Durant had an effective field goal percentage of 68.9 percent.
- The Thunder’s normal starting lineup was a plus-23 in 32 minutes against Golden State, allowing the Warriors to score just 90.2 points per 100 possessions. All other OKC lineups were a minus-49 in 117 minutes, allowing 118.7 points per 100 possessions.
- The Warriors’ “Death Lineup” scored 57 points (and was a plus-17) in just 17 minutes against the Thunder.
- Adams and Kanter, who played 66 minutes together in the conference semifinals, played just five minutes together (all in the Feb. 6 meeting) against Golden State.
- For more Warriors-Thunder matchup notes, see the SportVU preview of the Western Conference finals.