A Bunch Of Threes And The End Of The Oklahoma City Thunder
Saturday night, Klay Thompson prevented the Golden State Warriors from joining the 2001 Seattle Mariners and 2007 New England Patriots as "couldn't get it done in the playoffs" punch lines. It don't mean a thing without that ring, after all.
During a fourth quarter that felt like watching Mad Max: Fury Road on a VR headset while mainling a Big Gulp after popping a handful of amphetamines, Thompson blitzed Oklahoma and surrounding regions with 19 points, including five long-range jumpers that came from behind a line painted on the floor before the game. The storm was so aggressive even Steph Curry woke up from a three-game funk, and in a few short minutes the Thunder's eight-point lead vanished. Fans' hearts cracked like dropped iPhones, and the two superstars who so overwhelmed the champions in three previous victories were left stunned, droplets of Andre Iguodala's defensive effort lingering on their skin even during the post-game press conference.
It seems silly now, the notion of a secretly injured Steph Curry. Those of us who refuse to classify him as a one-trick pony smothered by superior defenders bought the theory for a few days — no other explanation seemed reasonable! — but perhaps it's even simpler than that. Maybe the Warriors were just tired, exhausted from winning more games than any other team in history.
There's only one contest tonight, though, and the stakes run higher than the temperature of your Memorial Day steaks (© Rim Reilly 2016). Should the Warriors win, we'll credit the mysterious force known as Sports Momentum, as if the comeback in Oklahoma was so impressive that a series victory was inevitable. A Thunder win, of course, washes away the lunacy of Game 6 forever, and Golden State's 73 regular-season wins along with it.
The league's most hostile environment awaits Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the stage on which they may finally be tagged with the dreaded label of "this era's early-2000's Sacramento Kings." As Golden State is nearly unbeatable at home, it's easy to view this game as nothing more than an entertaining formality, the last domino to fall before we're handed what we expected in October: a Cavs-Warriors Finals rematch.
Durant, an unrestricted free agent this summer, probably doesn't want an "unfinished business" theme for re-signing with OKC after the season. So, outside of a fashion runway, this could be the final time we see this duo together. If they intend to clinch a spot in the Finals, they'll have to play like there's no tomorrow. |ES|
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