The Oklahoma City Thunder nearly put the Golden State Warriors out of the NBA playoffs last year but could not close a series they led 3-1.
Then the Warriors put the Thunder out of serious contention by signing away Kevin Durant.
The injured Durant was on the bench on Monday night as the Warriors met the Thunder for the final time in the regular season and beat them soundly 111-95.
It was the new normal for the Warriors. They stifled Russell Westbrook and turned loose their 3-point shooters. Westbrook scored only 15 points, missing 12 of his 16 shots from the field. Meanwhile, Stef Curry and Klay Thompson each hit seven 3-pointers, as Curry finished with 23 points and Thompson with 34.
So much noise gets made every time the Warriors either lose a game or rest their starters that it’s easy to forget they are a league-best 56-14 and 2 ½ games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference race. The Thunder are 40-30 and sixth in the conference and they do not play well on the road (14-20) while the Warriors (27-10) and Spurs (27-9) excel away from home. The Thunder are the only team in the West’s top six below .500 on the road.
Has the Thunder’s window closed? Could be. The conference is just too deep and the team is a scorer or two short.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman