The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors got off to a strong start before holding off the Oklahoma City Thunder in the season opener.
BOX SCORE | PLAY-BY-PLAY
Here are three key takeaways from the Western Conference season-opening tilt.
Stephen Curry played like an MVP
With 32 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds, Stephen Curry did it all in what was one of the best season-opening games of his career. He started the game a perfect 5-5 from beyond the arc and finished with the second-most points he's ever had to open a season, trailing the 40 he dropped in 2015-16 en route to winning his second straight MVP award.
Perhaps just as important as his shooting was his playmaking as eight of Curry's 9 assists came in the second half when he picked apart Oklahoma City's defence.
Golden State's offence stagnated whenever Curry sat, finishing with as many turnovers (5) as made field goals (5) while shooting just 5-17 including 1-6 from the 3-point line.
Oklahoma City missed Russell Westbrook late
Russell Westbrook did not play as he's still recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Despite no Westbrook, give the Thunder credit for fighting back from a 14-point deficit to take the lead in the third quarter. They defended well all night and Paul George was magnificent in the third quarter, scoring 15 points on 6-10 shooting to put Oklahoma City in position to win it late.
Offseason acquisition Dennis Schröder filled in admirably, scoring 21 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 9 assists.
And yet Westbrook's absence was felt late when Golden State was able to key in George, leaving OKC without a strong second option to create. Schröder, Raymond Felton, Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson combined to shoot 0-6 in the fourth quarter with Schröder air-balling a wide open shot that would have cut the lead to two with just over 40 seconds remaining.
Here is the shot chart for Oklahoma City's guards in the fourth quarter.
Golden State's center rotation
One of the biggest storylines for the defending champions the first half of the season will be how the centers play filling in for the injured DeMarcus Cousins. For at least one night, the duo of Damian Jones and Kevon Looney played exceptionally well.
Jones started and scored 12 points on 6-7 shooting while looking comfortable playing pick and roll with Curry. He also showed some nice defensive versatility on switches, even holding up one-on-one against Paul George on a few occassions.
Looney posted a double-double off the bench with eight of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive glass. With Looney on the floor, the Warriors outscored the Thunder by 23 points, giving him the best plus-minus of any Warriors player.
That Jones and Looney combined fo 22 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks is even more impressive considering it came against Steven Adams who is one of the best centres in the entire league. It might not get the attention of Curry's big night, but this could have been the single biggest item to come out of the season opener.