I would not say this is a must win for the Warriors because the series would not be over, but it sure feels like one. The momentum would be heavily favored in the Thunder’s favor. Lets take a dive into some things to consider when exploring tonight’s match-up.
Which small ball lineup wins?
With the Thunder going small, you could tell that they were a completely different team versus the Warriors. They played Kevin Durant at the four, with a rotation of Enes Kanter, Serge Ibaka, and Steven Adams at the center position. This allowed for many switches that confused the Warriors, and it allowed them to get into transition that much easier, which is something that is hard to stop for any NBA team, even the Warriors. Another key for the Thunder was their ability to still play terrific defense when their team goes small. Yes, the Warriors still play decent defense when playing small ball, but they ultimately rely on being able to outscore you with these types of lineups. As you could tell in Game 3, when they were forced into a ton of quick shots, it turned south. The key is going to be which small ball lineup will play better defensively.
Can Draymond Green take control again?
After a $25,000 fine and no suspension, Green should be happy that he is able to suit up in Game 4 because most other players would not be able to, especially if this was the regular season. Going 1-for-9 shooting will not cut it in Game 4 for a team that was lacking an inside presence during Game 3. Green looks lost in their transition defense, so he will need to correct the mistakes he made in Game 3. The Warriors are at a big disadvantage without him and they need that All-Star caliber, all-around defensive guru back to have success tonight.
Can the Warriors just figure out the Thunder?
The Warriors have been here before. They were down 2-1 to both Memphis and the Cleveland last year in the playoffs, and adjusted to come back and win the series. It just seems like this time around they have not been able to adjust too well. They have let Andre Roberson and Dion Waiters both have excellent series so far. No disrespect to those two, but when they have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to worry about, it makes it that much harder when those two are having great games.
The Warriors can not fall back into rushing their shooting opportunities like they did in Game 3. They need to trust in themselves and move the ball like they have all season. When they were missing their shots in Game 3, they would start rushing to create opportunities. They need to keep the ball movement going to get the shooting looks they are accustomed to having.