In the buildup to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, we will argue in favor of both teams winning the series and heading to the NBA Finals. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, Click Here.
1. Homecourt Advantage in Game 7 is Enormous
Home teams win around 59% of NBA games. But there have been 124 Game 7’s in NBA history… and the home team has won 100 of them. That’s over 80%. The home team has won every Game 7 this season. And last season. Road teams have won only six in the past decade. History just says never to bet against the home team in Game 7.
2. The Warriors are a Significantly Better Team
We covered this before the series, but it’s still worth mentioning that while these two teams are tied in a six-game sample, the Warriors were far better over the more reliable 82-game sample of the regular season. They won 18 more games, outscored opponents by 3.3 more points per game, and were at least two points per 100 possessions better than the Thunder on both sides of the floor during the regular season. As a general rule and considering both teams should have their full rosters available, it probably makes more sense to pick the team that was better all year.
3. Andre Roberson is not Kyle Korver, and it’s Going to Show
There is absolutely no precedent for what Andre Roberson has done in this series. Players who make 31% during the regular season don’t suddenly morph in 57% three-point shooters late in the playoffs. Some of that can be placed on the Warriors using Draymond Green as a roamer rather than actually guarding him earlier in the series, but most of it is just sheer dumb luck. Heck, before Game 6 of the Spurs series he’d gone 1-of-14 from three in the playoffs. And then there’s the rebounding. He’s averaged almost nine over the last three games. During the regular season he grabbed 3.6 per game. These are not sustainable trends. He is a role player playing a Game 7 on the road and his numbers are destined to crater.
4. Draymond Green is not Tony Allen, and it’s Going to Show
The regression has already begun, as Green shot 2-of-5 from three in Game 6. That’s around what we should expect out of him. 39% Shooters don’t just suddenly forget how to shoot. Draymond going 2-of-14 from three in the first five games was a blip, and assuming he’s out of his funk, the Thunder have to change a lot of how they play defense. If Green isn’t making shots, Serge Ibaka doesn’t have to guard him out to the three-point line. That gives OKC an extra rim protector and rebounder, which gives them more fast-break opportunities, which gives them free points because Russell Westbrook is a tornado of knives. But with Green back to normal, suddenly the Thunder have to think twice about blitzing or trapping Stephen Curry on the 1-4 pick-and-roll. Suddenly Golden State cutters can operate with impunity. Suddenly Golden State’s offense is back to normal, and if that’s the case, well, there’s a reason they only lost nine games in the regular season.
5. Holy Crap the Thunder Must Be Exhausted
Here are the minute averages for Oklahoma City’s top-6 in this series:
Kevin Durant: 40.5
Russell Westbrook: 38.1
Serge Ibaka: 34.5
Steven Adams: 29.0
Dion Waiters: 31.2
Andre Roberson: 28.2
Save for foul trouble, the Thunder have largely played only six players significantly in this series. They’re also coming off of a six-game series against a 67-win team, and they just lost one of the most devastating playoff games ever. It’s fair to wonder if they’ll be able to summon the energy needed to play 48 great minutes on the road to beat a 73-win team with a unanimous MVP. Purely emotionally, it felt like the Thunder lost the series in Game 6.