The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals in six games and set up a thrilling conference finals series in the 2016 NBA Playoffs against another West rivals in the Golden State Warriors, the favorites and current defending champions.
The Thunder vs. Warriors match-up also means that two big men, the Thunder’s Steven Adams and the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut will be matched up against each other making an interesting Australia vs. New Zealand battle in the paint.
Being from the same continent, it’s natural that Australians and Kiwis don’t like each other and both are expected to feel the same when the Warriors vs. Thunder best-of-seven series starts on Monday.
The sporting rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is prominent in rugby union and cricket but their basketball rivalry has picked up in recent years. The NBA Playoffs – West Finals match-up will add more flavor to that rivalry as both players play the same position (center) and will most likely be matched up against other in long stretches in each game of the best-of-seven series.
Warriors vs. Thunder, Australia vs. New Zealand centers match-up postseason comparison:
Andrew Bogut (10 games): 5.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.8 blocks in 17.7 minutes per game
Steven Adams (10 games): 9.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.8 blocks in 31.3 minutes per game
Adams has the edge in scoring and rebounding but that’s because he plays more minutes that his Australian counterpart. Bogut has the advantage in the defensive stats steals and blocks and its expected because his defense is what his team needs with the presence of many scorers in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes.
Meanwhile, the Kiwi has great scorers along with him too in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook but he has been active in scoring in the recent series against the Spurs where he was one of the vital players on offense as defense focused on OKC’s stars.
Who will win between the Warriors and Thunder in the NBA Playoffs – West Finals? And who will win in the battle between Australia vs. New Zealand centers?
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/ Matthew Addie/Wikimedia Commons