The Golden State Warriors have not faced many problems in reaching the NBA Western Conference finals, defeating Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. But they have a huge task ahead of them as they face a confident looking Oklahoma City Thunder, who played some outstanding basketball in their last round to knock out San Antonio Spurs from the Playoffs.
Defeating Spurs will only increase Thunder's level of confidence in the competition. With such quality teams, Game 1 of the western conference final between Warriors and Thunder at Oracle Arena on Monday is expected to be a classic encounter.
There is an incredible line-up of stars in both the teams, which makes it an interesting affair. If Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are going to play an important role in the final for Warriors, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will be keen to stun Warriors, who are the defending champions as well.
The Warriors were unstoppable during the regular season, and Thunder, despite their display, failed to defeat Curry and co. But it is a different game altogether in the playoffs, and Thunder are playing some good basketball at present.
Warriors star, Curry is aware of Thunders and their form at present.
''They're an explosive team. They're clicking right now and found a good recipe to beat a tough Spurs team. That says a lot about how they're playing right now," AP quoted Curry as saying.
Curry might not have played much in the playoffs due to injuries, but the player not only needs to fire against Thunder, but also maintain his fitness. If Curry stands tall against Thunder, there are few teams in the world to stop Warriors from winning. With Draymond Green and Thompson having shone in Curry's absence, the trio will be eager to take crucial lead in the best-of-seven series.
Though the Warriors will start the series as favourites, the home team is fully aware about the need to stop Westbrook and Durant. If the duo plays at their optimum level on a consistent basis, Thunder will be in a serious position to knock out the defending champions. Westbrook will be keen to exploit his likely match-up against Thompson.
Besides Thunder's magnificent duo, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams also need to show their skills against Warriors.
However, they cannot focus on their offence alone, as their defence needs to shine against Warriors. If they give an inch to Curry and Thompson, the latter can pounce on the chance.
Thunder have been one of the best sides when it comes to rebounds, and center Adams will need to once again dominate in such aspects of the game. It is such things, which could lead to a difference between a loss and victory.
Where to watch live
Golden State Warriors vsOklahoma City Thunder NBA playoff conference final Game 1 is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET (6:30 a.m. IST, 2 a.m. BST) start. Indian viewers can watch it live on Sony Six/HD, with live streaming on Sonyliv.
Viewers in the US can watch the Golden State Warriors vsOklahoma City Thunder NBA playoff conference final Game 1 live on TNT, with live streaming on TNT Overtime.
BT Sport will provide live coverage of the NBA playoffs game in the UK, while the game can also be live streamed on Watch BT Sport.
NBA fans can also watch the Golden State Warriors vsOklahoma City Thunder NBA playoff conference final Game 1 live on NBA.com.