By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY – After an embarrassing blowout loss in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Oklahoma City returns home tonight for Game 3 against Golden State Warriors.
Even though the series is tied at 1-1, the beat down in Game 2 was so overwhelming, it had the feeling of a knockout punch to some.
“You take it personally,” Serge Ibaka said. “It makes us feel like we’re soft, we’re weak, you know what I’m saying? So that’s why I say again, we have to do a better job next game and be aggressive, make sure if they’re going to score those baskets, that’s hurting them. They have to work hard to get us.
But Russell Westbrook likes how his team has responded to defeats this postseason. In three previous losses to Dallas and San Antonio, the Thunder came back the next game with a victory.
“Just we can see when we’re messing around or we’re not completely locked in on both sides of the basketball,” Westbrook said. “And we know some of the things we have to do to get ourselves ready for the next game.”
Yet, none of those games were against the defending champion Warriors, who have had success in Oklahoma City during the regular season.
In that one and only meeting, Steph Curry hit a 40-footer in overtime to beat the Thunder in what may have been the best game of the regular season. But Curry said that doesn’t transfer over into this series.
“Honestly I walked off the bus and didn’t even think about it once,” Curry said. “I got out here, and obviously know where the shot was and all that kind of stuff, but it doesn’t mean anything when it comes to rollover effect to tomorrow. I walked over to the spot and didn’t even shoot it again.”
Curry has been more impressed with the defense the Warriors are doing on Westbrook. Besides a 19 point third quarter in Game 1, the explosive Westbrook hasn’t broke loose, even though a slighter Curry is guarding him.
“I just try to do my part. He is obviously an explosive athlete,” Curry said. “Just try and stay in front of him the best I can. Stay attached on pick and rolls, not give him any easy look, especially line drives to the basket. It’s been like that the last three or four years.”
The Thunder will need Westbrook to either win or play even in his matchup with Curry. That doesn’t mean he has to match Curry point for point. Just have a strong impact in all areas of the game, including defense.
‘Oh, I mean, just got to play harder,” Westbrook said. “You know, once we play harder, everything else will go into place. I think that’s the most important part.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.(central) on TNT.