Basketball: Steven Adams and Oklahoma City Thunder one win from NBA Finals

By Kris Shannon

After Steven Adams copped a couple of painful shots below the belt, the only blow in game four was delivered to Golden State's title hopes.

Adams and the Oklahoma City Thunder this afternoon went 3-1 up over the heavily-favoured Warriors in the Western Conference finals, seizing a 118-94 victory to move to within one win of playing for the NBA title.

Eliminating Golden State would be a huge shock, given the Warriors sealed their place in history with a record-breaking 73-9 regular season, but it would be no less than the Thunder deserve.

Having blown out the Warriors at home in Monday's game three - embarking on an unstoppable scoring run that was sparked when Adams took a kick to the groin from Golden State forward Draymond Green - the Thunder repeated the feat in game four.

The Warriors had completed their regular season without once suffering back-to-back defeats but that remarkable run rarely looked like continuing as the Thunder led throughout, offering a chance to close out the series in California on Friday afternoon (NZT).

Point guard Russell Westbrook led the way for the home side, recording a triple-double of 36 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds and completely outplaying counterpart Stephen Curry. The two-time MVP was hassled and harangued throughout the game, forced to settle for 19 points while shooting two-of-10 from beyond the arc and turning over the ball on six occasions.

Kevin Durant had 26 points for the Thunder while Adams added 11 points, seven rebounds and two steals. The Kiwi even had to overcome yet another injury scare in a series full of them, rolling an ankle in the first quarter after also suffering a back spasm and two hits to the groin from Green in back-to-back games.


Adams tested wearing a cup in pre-game but eventually opted against playing with any protection, saying, "I was seriously considering it, though. Second time's a coincidence, third time's a trend, so if it happened a third time then I'm definitely all there."

But Green, fortunate to avoid suspension, was ineffective throughout while Adams helped his side win the rebounding battle and played shut-down defence throughout, exemplified by blocking a Curry triple for the second straight game.

And the centre, hardly renowned for his passing, also recorded a couple of impressive assists in the second quarter, including a memorable one-handed overhead toss to Andre Roberson that illustrated the big man's vision.

His performance came after the home crowd rallied around Adams, booing Green heavily and throwing their support behind their favourite New Zealander, with both homemade signs and body painted fans vowing to "protect Adams' kiwis".


"It got me in trouble a couple times with pick-and-roll coverage," Adams said of the noise. "But whatever. They were into it."


- NZ Herald

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