The Golden State Warriors (55-14) will begin a two-game road trip with a visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-29) on Monday evening. The Warriors has bounced back from a poor start to March, with three victories on the trot against the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Golden State will be without superstar forward Kevin Durant, who hasn't featured in a game since suffering a left knee MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise on Feb. 28. However, Durant will be travelling with the team during the back-to-back road games against the Thunder (Monday) and Dallas Mavericks (Tuesday) and could be cleared to return to basketball activities when the Warriors returns home later this week.
On Feb. 11, Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time since bolting for the Bay Area during free agency last year. As expected, the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena welcomed Durant with "cupcake" signs and thunderous boos. Though Durant had the last laugh, leading the Warriors to victory, the contest elevated the status of Russell Westbrook into the alpha male of Oklahoma City after he yelled "I'm coming. I'm coming" towards his former teammate during a half court interaction.
Despite the mini-battles surrounding the contest, the Warriors has proven to be too good for the Thunder this season. After their 130-114 victory last month, the Warriors improved to 3-0 against the Thunder, maintaining a 21-point average margin of victory. However, Monday's game won't be level playing field due to Durant's absence. Thunder centre Enes Kanter, who engaged in a war of words with Durant during last month's contest, wants his team to focus on their strengths instead of worrying about Golden State. "The most important thing is not worry about them. Just worry about us. If we play our game, then we're going to be fine," Kanter said Sunday during a Thunder practice session, via ESPN.
The Thunder is on a five-game winning streak but coach Billy Donovan wants his team to stay on their toes. "We've made strides in a positive direction. There are more to be made. The only thing you can do is come in here intentionally every single day and be committed and focused on how you want to play offensively and defensively and be committed to doing those things and not get to a place of complacency."
Meanwhile, Warriors coach Steve Kerr is thrilled with the addition of veteran forward Matt Barnes, who was signed in the aftermath of Durant's injury. During Saturday's 117-92 victory over the Bucks, Barnes had 7 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists, besides lockdown defence. "He's not a great shooter but he's a guy who you have to honour if you're out there defending him. He doesn't have to make shots to be effective. He does everything else so well. He's already picked up our offense, like that. He's been a tremendous addition."
Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder live stream: How to watch
Start time: 8:00 p.m. (ET), 5:00 p.m. (PT), 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday (AEST), 11:00 a.m. (AEDT)
On TV: TNT (USA), ESPN (Australia)
Live Stream: NBA League Pass (Global), WatchTNT (USA), Watch ESPN (Australia)