Thunder guard Andre Roberson drives toward the basket during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. (Photo By Sam Murch)
By Michael Kinney
1. Steph Curry: The reigning MVP has been anything but MVP worthy in the Western Conference Finals. By his own admission, Curry has not played well in three of the four games. But what puts the pressure on Curry is how fans and media have started to use an injury excuse to explain his less than stellar performance. When you are supposed to be the trans-formative player Curry has been made out to be, excuses can never be part of your game. If he doesn’t put up a fight in Game 5, the Warriors will stay home.
“So this is a tough situation to be in, but the series isn’t over,” Curry said. “In our locker room it’s obviously frustration, trying to figure out how we can get back to being ourselves, and we have an opportunity to do that on Thursday. So excited about that.”
2. Andre Roberson: The Oklahoma City shooting guard has proven critics wrong who claimed he would be a liability in this series. In Game 3 he buried three 3-pointers. He followed that up with a 7 of 13 outing from the field in Game 4. When the Warriors choose to sag off him to protect against Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, he has made them pay. Part of that has to do with coach Billy Donovan finding ways to keep Roberson dangerous.
“Well, it’s funny. Like after Game 2 people are saying to me, is this guy going to even play anymore?,” Donovan said. “Andre’s a good basketball player, and I think sometimes the things that go missing with him is he makes winning plays and he’s a winning player. There’s a lot of things he can do. He offensive rebounds. He slashes to the basket. I have confidence in him shooting the basketball. He’s a great worker.”
3. Draymond Green: The Warriors heart and inspirational leader has been anything but that since his now infamous kick to the groin of Thunder center Steven Adams. His plus/minus the last two games is an outstanding (-) 73. He says the groin incident hasn’t gotten into his head, but there is a noticeable difference in his play. But, much of that may be from the size and versatility of the Thunder. Against most team, Green, an All-Defensive team member, can shut down players. Against OKC he is at a disadvantage, so far.
“Draymond always blames himself every time we lose,” Steve Kerr said. “He goes over the top. It’s not his fault. He didn’t play a good game last night, but nobody did. I like that he’s accountable and other guys, Steph, same thing, everybody wants to take blame. But it’s us. It’s all of us. It’s coaches, it’s players, we have to do better, and we’re confident that we will. We’ve got a day here to kind of clear our heads and get back to work (today).”
4. Kevin Durant: It’s a close out game on the road. That’s when superstars earn their paychecks. The Thunder have the Warriors on respirators and just need to pull the plug in Game 5. If they allow the series to get back to a Game 6, anything can happen. A huge game from Durant can go a long way in making sure there is no game Saturday. But the former MVP isn’t trying to put any added pressure on him self.
“I think I’m going out there and playing extremely hard for my team,” Durant said. “I’m going out there and providing some leadership. That stuff is for everybody on the outside who doesn’t know what goes into every possession in the basketball game which you don’t see on the stat sheet. I think that’s one thing I try to bring. Signature game, I think me just being out there helping my team get wins.”
Michael Kinney is a freelance writer and can be reached at Eyeamtruth@gmail.com