On the NBA’s Opening Night, the reigning-champion Warriors hosted the Thunder and came out with the win. What were the takeaways of the night?
To close out the opening night of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors played host to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s the first showing of the season for Golden State, the two-time defending champs. With DeMarcus Cousins still sidelined, recovering from his torn Achilles, the Warriors still look similar to the team they have been the past couple of seasons. The Thunder haven’t changed much, either.
After undergoing an arthroscopic knee surgery about a month ago, Russell Westbrook was sidelined to begin the season. This allowed for new face Dennis Schroder to start in his place.
It was an up-and-down contest. As usual, Golden State had a grip on the game but loosened up and allowed Oklahoma City to get back into it. They tightened things up when it mattered, though, and were able to come out on top in this one — 108-100 .
Dennis Schroder was a great pick-up for the Thunder: Oklahoma City could have gotten almost anything back in exchange for Carmelo Anthony and get more use than Anthony was last season. The Thunder already have a speedy starting point guard employed in Russell Westbrook, but there is no harm in bringing another on board. The stat sheets will likely show Schroder starting few games this season, but he will undoubtedly share the floor with Westbrook and the other starters quite often. With Andre Roberson slated to miss the first couple months of the season, the Thunder will be trying to get as much production from their young wings as possible.
In this game against the Warriors, it was second-year guard Terrance Ferguson getting a crack at starting minutes. In 27 minutes, he recorded four rebounds and one assist. Perhaps Alex Abrines will get his chance next. It doesn’t matter much, though, because it’s hard to imagine him playing more than Schroder. As the starter in this game, Schroder put up 21 points (7-of-19 shooting, as he does), nine boards, six assists, and two steals. He is not the perfect player. There is a reason Atlanta wanted to move on from him. But he will add a new dynamic for the Thunder that could help them move up the Western Conference ladder.
Warriors will be OK at center until Cousins returns: The center spot has essentially become a throw-away position for the Warriors. Their best lineup consists of Draymond Green playing the 5. The challenge for Golden State has been finding two or three guys to fill in the holes — the 30 or so minutes that Green isn’t playing center. In the playoffs last season, Golden State was able to figure out the winning center rotation. JaVale McGee started and had some really productive minutes. Kevon Looney had an impact on both ends, and so did Jordan Bell and David West. Until Cousins returns, Golden State will have to figure out a similarly successful rotation.
McGee and West are gone, but Looney and Bell are still in the fold — and now Damian Jones is, too. Jones started in the Dubs’ first game, scoring an efficient 12 points in 27 minutes. Looney was able to record a double-double in 18 minutes. For now, it’s looking like Golden State will be fine at their weakest position.
Stephen Curry can’t help himself: Some guys just really like to show off. Stephen Curry is the best shooter ever and one of the three best players in the league. The offseason feels short, but four months is a long time. Curry wanted to remind people how great he is. In the first game of the season, Curry went off for 32 points (11-of-20 from the field; 5-of-9 from 3), nine assists, and eight rebounds. Kevin Durant, a fellow top-three NBA player, had a night himself: 27 points, six assists, eight rebounds. Yet and still, it feels like Warriors games just sway in their favor when Curry has games like he did against the Thunder. When Durant scores, Oracle cheers. But when Curry scores, it seems like the whole Bay stands up and roots on their little 6-foot-3 assassin.