From Kevin Durant to Russell Westbrook to Steven Adams, the Oklahoma City Thunder are outplaying the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. But that alone isn’t why the Warriors lost Game 1 at home, where they went 39-2 this season, nor is it why they got embarrassed in Games 3 and 4 and now find themselves trailing 3-1 in the series and on the brink of elimination.
No, the Warriors aren’t just getting outplayed; they’re getting out-coached.
“I think so,” former NBA player David Wesley said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “For Steve Kerr, he’s been able to kind of – and not to say he’s not doing a fabulous job of coaching, but he’s had the luxury (of coaching a great team). It’s the same way I look at the Bulls back in the day. There’s a lot you don’t have to do. Sometimes coaches, all they need to do when you have great teams like that is stay out of the way – because those teams have great players, great teams and are able to work themselves through it. And right now, Steve Kerr needs to go into his bag and change some of what they’re doing.”
The Warriors, who encountered minimal resistance during the regular season, trailed Oklahoma City by 41 points in Game 3 – their largest deficit of the season – and have allowed 72 first-half points in back-to-back games. Even the game they won, Game 2, was relatively close before a third-quarter explosion from Steph Curry.
Overall, it’s been a nightmare for Golden State.
“Even though (their style of play) worked to win 73 games, in this series, it is not working,” Wesley said. “If (Kerr) goes out and plays it the same way (with the mindset of), ‘We just have to hit shots, and we have to stop turning the ball over,’ it could be (over).”
Good luck trying to find a stat in this series that favors Golden State – because there isn’t one. The Warriors were out-rebounded 52-38 in Game 3 and 56-40 in Game 4. The Thunder forced 34 turnovers in those games, including 21 in Game 4. Durant and Westbrook have been the two best players on the floor, and Adams, Enes Kanter and others have been terrors on the glass.
“They’re dominating the boards, they are crashing, they’re getting second chances and doing an amazing job,” Wesley said. “They’re getting so many more possessions that way, and then of course the (Warriors are committing a lot of) turnovers. It’s just going to be tough to beat (the Thunder) playing that style that you (played in the regular season).”