Series tied 0-0
The defending champion and top-seeded Golden State Warriors are one series away from another appearance in the NBA Finals but are staring at an opponent that seems to get stronger by the game. The Oklahoma City Thunder will try to steal Game 1 on the road when they visit the Warriors for the series opener on Monday.
The Thunder have won four of their five road games in the postseason and took a pair in the semifinals at San Antonio, which dropped only one home game during the regular season. “The one thing that’s happened for our team, which has been good, is Dallas and San Antonio,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan told reporters. “These games helped us get better. We have improved and gotten better. I think there’s an opportunity to continue to grow for our team.” The Warriors spent most of the first two rounds without two-time MVP Stephen Curry, but the star point guard returned in the final two games of the semifinals against Portland and averaged 34.5 points, 9.5 assists and seven rebounds while providing the dagger 3-pointers that clinched both wins. Golden State got four full days off between series to help heal Curry’s knee injury and buy some time for center Andrew Bogut (adductor), who left Game 5 against the Trail Blazers and sat out practices on Friday and Saturday.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened at 7.5-point favorites an, as of Sunday evening, the line hasn’t budged since its release. The total opened at 223 and came up by a half point to 223.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (63-30, 44-48-1 ATS, 45-48 O/U): Oklahoma City lost Game 1 against the Spurs by 32 points but rebounded to win the series behind stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Westbrook, who drew some criticism and heaped more on himself after needing 31 shots to get 31 points in a Game 3 loss, was arguably the best player on the floor in the final three games of the series, dictating the pace and relentlessly attacking the basket. “I’m excited for all of our players,” Donovan told reporters. “Those guys have done a tremendous job and have worked really hard getting prepared to play each game. I’m just happy that we get a chance to advance and continue to play.”
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (81-11, 52-38-2 ATS, 50-41-1 O/U): Golden State will start Festus Ezeli at center if Bogut is unable to go in Game 1, and the team is confident a reserve frontcourt that includes Anderson Varejao and Marreese Speights can pick up the slack. “We’ve got a lot of options, a lot of depth,” Kerr said. “The good thing is, we’ve had to play without a lot of people this year, and we’ve had to adapt to that. We’ll figure it out.” All-Star forward Draymond Green rolled his ankle in the finale against Portland but has been practicing over the weekend and is more worried about getting baited into technical fouls (he’s already been whistled for four during the postseason) than he is about the ankle.
* Thunder are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Warriors are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 home games.
* Under is 4-1 in Thunder last 5 Conference Finals games.
* Under is 5-1 in Warriors last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Home team is 7-0-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Somewhat surprising early Consensus data with the Thunder picking up 51 percent of the wagers as of Sunday evening. The Over is the fun play with these two offensive-minded teams, so not a huge surprise that 70 percent of Covers users are picking the Over. View full consensus data here.
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