Two teams that have fallen upon hard times — some harder than others — since losing Kevin Durant get a chance to lick their wounds Monday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Golden State Warriors.
The Thunder have lost three in a row and the Warriors their last two as they meet in a rematch of a 114-108 Oklahoma City home win earlier this month.
Such is the current state of 10- and 14-loss teams that both the Thunder and Warriors have been applauded of late simply by coming close.
Oklahoma City’s three-game losing streak has been impressive, if there is such a thing. The first two losses were by two and five points, respectively, in a road back-to-back against the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers. The third came by three at home in the second half of a home-and-home with the Lakers.
It’s been a while since the Thunder have seen a team like Golden State.
“We’ve had a lot of (close losses) this year,” guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander told reporters after Friday’s second loss to the Lakers. “It’s something we’ll all learn from and we’ll get better from.”
The Thunder also have had a lot of practice losing on the road. The double-dip in L.A. dropped them to 0-6 for the season on the road, allowing them to share with Orlando the distinction of being the only teams to remain winless away from home.
The key to success in the earlier home win over Golden State was 3-point shooting. In a game that was quite even in most other areas, the Thunder outscored the Warriors 42-21 on 3-pointers, hitting 14 of 30 while Golden State went just 7-for-22.
D’Angelo Russell made four of Golden State’s seven treys in eight attempts in that contest, but he won’t play on Monday.
The Warriors suited up just eight players for the final two games of their just completed four-game trip, and figure to have a similar look against the Thunder despite some encouraging news last week.
But the new report after Sunday’s workout was that center Kevon Looney (neuropathy) has been pushed back at least until the end of the week, while rookie Alen Smailagic is now being pointed to Wednesday night against Chicago for his NBA debut.
Russell (thumb) remains out, and it appears Draymond Green, who missed the last two games with an assortment of minor injuries, won’t play at least until Wednesday, either.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was impressed with what his remaining eight guys were able to accomplish Friday at Utah at the end of a six-day, four-game trip. Golden State rallied late and had the ball, down three, in the final seconds before coming up short, 113-109.
“We’re not winning a lot of games, but we’re competing,” Kerr told reporters after the Utah game. “And I’m really proud of the guys.”
In their first season after seeing Durant become a Brooklyn Net, the Warriors (3-14) have gone from an NBA Finalist to the team with the worst record in the league.
The Thunder (5-10), meanwhile, haven’t won a playoff series since Durant left for Golden State after leading Oklahoma City to the Western finals in 2014 and 2016.
–Field Level Media