“When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight,” observed Dr. Johnson, “it concentrates the mind wonderfully.” The Golden State Warriors, facing elimination not in two weeks but in four quarters, buckled down from the get-go and presented their hometown crowd with the hope of one more game, mostly by controlling the paint and keeping the Thunder from easy dashes to the rim. OKC led for 14 seconds in the third quarter, but that was it; when Andre Roberson fouled out inside the two-minute mark, you could see the game slipping away. Steph Curry (of course) picked up two free throws on that foul, giving the Warriors an eight-point lead, and then stole the ball on the next possession. A layup followed, and the last Thunder rally fell short. Golden State 120, Oklahoma City 111, forcing Game Six back in the Big Breezy on Saturday night.
To win actual games, you must score points. Kevin Durant scored 40, but it took him 31 shots. (He did hit all 13 of his free throws.) Russell Westbrook came up with 31 on 28 shots. Compare to the Splash Brothers, who scored less but with a lot less work: Curry 31 on 20 shots, Klay Thompson 27 on 21 shots. The Warriors, who shot around 50 percent most of the night, fell to 47, but the Thunder never broke above the middle 40s and finished at 43. Nor would rebounding save them; the boards were even at 45 each. And the X Factor might have been Andrew Bogut, who played an unprecedented (for him, anyway) 30 minutes in the middle, collecting 15 points and 14 boards while guarding the paint. But this is the line that bugs me the most: Enes Kanter was at 0 on the plus/minus scale while scoring one point. Evidently it wasn’t his night.
Dispatching the Warriors in Game 6 becomes a bit more urgent, because if the series goes to seven, it’s back to Oakland, and I have to assume that nobody wants to go back to Oakland. And some of our own fans are, um, excitable:
I want to hold Stephen Curry's head under in a dirty bathtub for 30-40 solid seconds, just enough to really scare him and cause mild choking
— Kurt Freudenberger (@K_Freudenberger) May 27, 2016
If things are done right, that won’t be necessary.