With a 4-0 start, the Oklahoma City Thunder are now looking to sweep their California road trip. The team just went through the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday night, and the Golden State Warriors are now next in line.
The game tonight has been very hyped as OKC will be facing off against their old teammate and leader, Kevin Durant.
There have been all kinds of talk about this game and the interesting matchups in it. For one, Russell Westbrook will be going up against Stephen Curry in a battle of the NBA’s best point guards. But what everyone have been waiting for is Westbrook facing off against Durant, a man many believed was Westbrook’s good friend. Meanwhile, Steven Adams will be rubbing elbows with Draymond Green, the man who delivered a good kick to his groin.
All of these will be fun to watch and talk about, but there is one matchup that is underrated. The Thunder’s Andre Roberson against Kevin Durant.
Roberson has filled-in Durant’s old spot in the starting line-up by simply moving from shooting guard to small forward. Roberson is an underrated key to the Thunder’s success. When the Thunder were at their best during last year’s Western Conference Finals, they were getting Roberson involved and he was putting the ball in the basket. Billy Donovan will have to make sure the Warriors feel Roberson’s presence again.
The more important part of Roberson’s game is his defense. He is arguably the best wing defender on the Thunder and has been looking like one of the best in the league. So how will Roberson be able to defend Durant? There should be no doubt that these two faced off many times in practices, but this is the first time Roberson will truly be defending Durant.
Durant has not slowed down his scoring since he joined the Warriors. He is currently averaging 31.3 points per game on 56.6% shooting. If the Thunder want any chance of winning on Thursday, Roberson will have to slow that down.
"Roberson got a piece of it!" Huge block from Dre in final secs of OT. pic.twitter.com/L7KZ3I7Rdc
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) October 29, 2016
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan will be tasked with balancing Roberson’s lack of offense and the team’s need to stop Durant. When Roberson is not on the floor, it will be hard to find anyone who could keep up with the former MVP. The Thunder’s back-up small forwards in Kyle Singler and Anthony Morrow could only pose major problems for their own team. Oklahoma City may have Victor Oladipo defend Durant in some stretches, but there is quite a height difference between the two.
Russell Westbrook can only do so much for the Thunder, so others will have to step up. It’s going to be a real battle in Golden State and neither team will go down easily. The winner of this one will be the team who can do a better job in taking advantages of weaknesses and executing their own play.