The Western Conference Finals series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors kicks off in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Oracle Arena. After the Thunder overcame the San Antonio Spurs in a thrilling six-game series, they now have the chance to rekindle their rivalry with the defending champions.
The regular season encounters between the two teams were classic affairs with the Warriors sweeping the series despite some close nights - most notably, Stephen Curry's incredible long-range buzzer beater.
It is the most highly anticipated matchup of the playoffs so far as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook face up against the All-Star trio of Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Ahead of the first game, GiveMeSport takes a look at some of statistics and history surrounding the two organisations.
- They have not met in the postseason since the days of the Seattle Supersonics. The 1992 first round was the last encounter as Golden State fell 3-1. Shawn Kemp's monstrous dunk over Alton Lister is still one of the most memorable in history.
-The two franchises hold the top two offences in the league. It is the first playoff series between teams that averaged at least 110 points in the regular season since 1992. Curry and Thompson were the association’s highest-scoring duo through 82 games while Durant and Westbrook were second.
- Oklahoma City drafted (or acquired on draft night) its entire starting five. Golden State drafted four, with Andrew Bogut being the only exception. Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka have been together since 2009-10. The Warriors’ four homegrown starters have made the playoffs in four consecutive years.
- The first unanimous NBA MVP faces the player who posted regular-season numbers matched only by Oscar Robertson. They are two distinctly different players who occupy the same position. Curry’s long-range shooting is unprecedented while Westbrook relentlessly attacks the basket and is deadly on mid-range jumpers.
- Thunder rookie coach Billy Donovan has defeated two of the five active coaches with rings (Rick Carlisle and Gregg Popovich). Donovan is looking to become the second coach in basketball history to win a NCAA championship and an NBA championship.
- OKC defeated the Spurs in part by playing Steven Adams and Enes Kanter together – a combination scarcely used before the playoffs but one that's dominated the boards. A clash of styles is set to ensue as the Warriors are the kings of small ball.
- Curry has made a three in 44 straight playoff games, tying Reggie Miller for the NBA record. He has hit 178 during his streak while Miller made 111.
- This season, the Warriors became the first team in NBA history to go an entire campaign without losing consecutive games. That run has continued during the postseason. They are 11-0 in games after a loss.
- The center battle will be key: Andrew Bogut of Australia and Steven Adams of New Zealand are tough, physical players who set hard screens, pound the glass and protect the paint.
- Anthony Morrow stands as the Warriors' leader in three-point field goal percentage having broken into the NBA in 2008 as an undrafted sharpshooter. Now with the Thunder, he entered the postseason having played 515 games without a playoff appearance.
- Warriors assistant Ron Adams spent two years in the same role with the Thunder from 2008-10. The man known as a defensive guru was voted the NBA’s best assistant in a 2015-16 preseason survey of general managers.