OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors this season have done well to overcome an assortment of injuries, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves trying to recover from one major injury when they come to Oracle Arena on Tuesday night.
The Warriors (41-12) are fairly healthy but have lost two of three games for the first time this season. This is the first of a four-game homestand during which they hope to find some level of proficiency, particularly on defense. After holding 12 of their first 34 opponents below 100 points, they’ve done so only once in the last 19 games.
The Thunder (30-23) were rolling, winners of seven in a row when guard Andre Roberson ruptured his patellar tendon on Jan. 27. OKC has since lost four of five.
Warriors by 10
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook: Though Westbrook likely will see more of Klay Thompson than Curry, the point guard battle featuring two MVPs is the one most likely to dictate the outcome. Westbrook totaled 34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals in the last meeting. He was plus-17. Curry had 24 points but committed six turnovers. He was minus-17. If that happens again, it will take awful lot for the Warriors to overcome it.
Warriors: F Jordan Bell (L ankle inflammation) is listed as out.
Thunder: G/F Andre Roberson (L patellar tendon rupture) is listed as out.
Warriors: 7-3. Thunder: 6-4.
Ken Mauer (crew chief), Lauren Holtkamp, Marat Kogut
The Warriors lost the first of four meetings scheduled for this season, 108-91, on Nov. 22 in Oklahoma City. The Warriors swept all four meetings last season and have won 10 of 12 in the Steve Kerr era.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE KD-PG CLASH: Durant is a top-5 player, George a top-15 player. George had the better game in November, with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, two blocks and one turnover, while Durant had 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and four turnovers. Expect Durant to raise his intensity level a notch. He’ll need it, for George -- in the absence of San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard -- may be the best two-way small forward in the NBA.
THE FIRST 12: The Warriors have taken a lead into the second quarter in only seven of their last 20 games. After a taking a lead in the opening minutes in OKC, they were down 33-26 after one and trailed over the final 41 minutes. If the Warriors dig themselves another hole, it will be difficult to climb out, even at home, against the Thunder.
THE BENCHES: OKC’s bench is not an asset. Coach Billy Donovan looks at his bench and sees one-dimensional players such as Alex Abrines (can’t defend), Josh Huestis (not making shots). The loss of Roberson further thinned the reserves. The Warriors’ bench, though slumping at both ends, is in position to exploit this.