Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Dubs (11/18/12)
With their one game road trip to New Orleans out of the way, the Thunder return home to face the top two teams in the Pacific division this week, starting with Golden State tonight. Alright, so the Warriors probably are not really the second best team in the Pacific, but that's where their current record of 5-4 puts them. They are hardly a menacing foe for elite teams like the Thunder, but Mark Jackson has his squad playing - gasp - defense. That has made them a tougher out this year.
Living and Dying by the Rebound
The formula for Golden State has been simple. If they out rebound their opponent, they win. If they get out rebounded, they lose. The Warriors rank sixth in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage at 74.5, an enormous step up for a team that has finished dead last in all of basketball in this category for five consecutive seasons. Oklahoma City is right behind Golden State with a defensive rebounding mark of 74.4, but the Thunder will have to improve upon their 22.3 offensive rebounding percentage if they hope to break the Dubs' newfound confidence.
Lights Out Shooting
Of course if any team can survive a poor rebounding performance, it is Oklahoma City. In addition to losing the rebounding battle in New Orleans on Friday, the Thunder posted a worse turnover percentage and had a lower free throw-to-field goal attempt ratio than the Hornets. They still won by 15, thanks to an effective field goal percentage of .635. That ridiculous number elevated Oklahoma City's season percentage to .528, fourth best in basketball. In the past that would have translated into easy points against the Warriors, but Golden State has surprisingly held opponents to the fourth lowest eFG percentage in the NBA, .462, and has only once allowed a foe to reach a mark of .500 in a game. Of course the flip side of that coin is that the Warriors have actually become a below average shooting team, and the Thunder have the third best defense in the NBA when it comes to eFG percentage at .458.
Last year, Oklahoma City swept Golden State in three games in which total scoring averaged above 220 points per contest. Both teams might have to work just a little harder for their points in their first meeting of this season.