Coming off one of the worst defensive performances of the season by any team, the Golden State Warriors haven't been given any favors by their schedule. On Wednesday night, the Warriors visit the Oklahoma City Thunder, boasting the league's most efficient offense, in a match-up of Western Conference contenders.
On Tuesday night, the Warriors ran into a red-hot shooting Houston Rockets team that simply barraged Golden State with three-point shots. Nine different players knocked down a shot from beyond the arc as Houston tied the NBA record for three-point shots made in a single game with 23.
Things got bad enough in Houston that the Warriors ended up spending the final minute of the game intentionally fouling simply to avoid the infamous record. SB Nation's Warriors blog, Golden State of Mind, wondered whether coach Mark Jackson played into Houston's strategy before adding, "I don't know if any team can win against that fire."
Golden State has been a much-improved defensive squad this season under Jackson, but the Rockets simply couldn't be stopped on Tuesday night. We'll see how much better the Warriors can fare while facing the best offense in basketball, though.
Boasting the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin, the Thunder have averaged 110 points per 100 possessions. The Miami Heat and New York Knicks are the only other teams to average more than 107 points per 100 possessions this season.
Oklahoma City has battled some inconsistency in recent weeks, alternating wins and losses over the previous nine games, but the team has still managed to avoid losing back-to-back games yet this season. Offense hasn't been the problem -- the Thunder have averaged 108 points per game during the past nine contests.
The game, which begins at 8 p.m. ET, will be the third time these two teams have tipped off this season. The Thunder beat the Warriors in OKC last November, but the Warriors responded with a home win over the Thunder in January.
The Thunder are 10.5-point favorites in what's expected to be a high-scoring game by the odds makers. The over/under is set at 213.5 points.
KD and the Warriors
Kevin Durant scores a lot of points. He scores them on dunks, contested jumpers, free throws and corner three-pointers. He scores them at home and on the road, in blowout wins and narrow losses. And even if the Warriors are an improved defensive unit this season, he scores a lot against them, too.
In fact, with a career scoring average of 30.7 points per game against Golden State, there isn't a team in the Western Conference that KD attacks with more success. Only the Washington Wizards, a team he's played just nine times, have allowed more points per game to the sport's premier scorer.
Durant's success against Golden State isn't limited to scoring, either. Against the Warriors, Durant grabs more rebounds per game (8.7) and dishes more assists per game (4.8) than he has against any other team, all the while shooting 51 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range.
To put things simply, Durant dominates this team. And SB Nation's Thunder blog, Welcome to Loud City, writes that he's only getting better, too.