Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook square off as adversaries for the first time in their NBA careers when Durant’s new team, the Golden State Warriors, host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. Durant departed the Thunder as a free agent in the offseason and tension is high as he faces his former teammates for the first time.
Golden State rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference finals to defeat Oklahoma City and then Durant opted to join the Warriors on July 4. Durant once again denied earlier this week that he is at odds with Westbrook but has confessed the strong relationship they had when they became teammates in 2008 had changed over the years. “You don’t hang out with your 19-year-old buddies no more every day, if you’re growing up and doing your own thing,” Durant told reporters. “Our personalities, my interests, went another way, and his went another way, and I respected that.” Westbrook has led Oklahoma City to a 4-0 start to begin the post-Durant era and he hit the winning jumper in Wednesday’s 85-83 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 11-point home favorites and that line was bet down to -10.5 by Thursday morning. The total hit the board at 226.5, dropped immediately to 224.5, and crept back up to 225.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS, 1-3 O/U): Westbrook signed a three-year, $85 million extension after Durant’s departure and he has embraced the opportunity to finally be viewed as the face of a franchise. He had 35 points in the victory over the Clippers and is averaging 37.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10 assists but refused to answer any questions about Durant in the postgame session with reporters. But he did have this to say shortly after Durant left: “We’ve been together eight years. You don’t throw that away. Obviously, he’s now with a new team. But we definitely will talk. Eventually.”
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS, 3-1 O/U): Durant is averaging 28.5 points and shooting 57.4 percent from the floor through four games with his new team. Coach Steve Kerr said Durant has seamlessly meshed with his new teammates — “he’s perfect for what we already do,” Kerr said — and the coach understands that the meeting with the Thunder is important to Durant. “Every player is excited when he plays against his former team,” Kerr told reporters. “It’s a little different for Kevin, because he’s a superstar and the spotlight is on him. Everybody’s going to be asking him questions and the TV cameras will be on him and Russ.”
DANCE TEAM BATTLE:
* Thunder are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
* Warriors are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 Thursday games.
* Warriors are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Under is 7-1 in Thunder last 8 road games.
* Under is 5-1 in Warriors last 6 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
* Thunder are 1-7 ATS in the last 8 meetings in Golden State.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is backing the Thunder as huge road underdogs at a rate of 58 percent and 58 percent of the totals wagers have been on the Over. View full consensus data here.