May 12, 2016 — Day 33: Thunder Win!
I never expected this to happen. The San Antonio Spurs seemed like an unstoppable force in their first five games in these playoffs. They dispatched the Memphis Grizzlies with a minimal amount of effort — which was entirely expected given how ravaged by injuries the Grizzlies were. Then in Game 1 of their series against the Thunder the Spurs looked like an unstoppable force that even had a shot at besting Golden State. Lamarcus Aldridge couldn’t miss, Kawhi Leonard was going to shut Westbrook and/or Durant down for the duration of the series, Danny Green was actually going to hit his three point shots. And then that didn’t happen.
Aldridge still looked great in Game 2, and the Spurs probably should have won that game. The referees flubbed the end of the game in some of the worst ways possible though and the Spurs lost.
Who knows how this series would have shaken out if the Spurs would have managed to go up 2–0. If they had scraped out a win in Game 3 in Oklahoma City then their 3–0 lead probably would have been insurmountable.
Instead, they went to OKC tied at 1–1. Then they started looking very old. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were all either in their last years in the league, or at least they should have been considering retirement at the end of this season. The Spurs have a nice young core coming up with Kawhi and Aldridge, but Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan still need to play a lot of minutes for this team. These 3 veterans have all won multiple championships, but they started to look frighteningly mortal in this series. Typically these three have been described as amazingly good for their age, but that finally started to unravel against an extremely athletic OKC team, lead by the superhumanly fast Westbrook.
When this series started I wanted the Spurs to win. I don’t have any special allegiance to either of these teams, except that I like watching the Thunder play. I was taken in by the Spurs record and the prospect of them being real challengers for the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. I realize now that I was so wrong. The Spurs are a boring team that happens to be VERY good. The Thunder are a team with a lot of highs and a LOT of lows, but damn they are exciting to watch. Now that it is happening I realize that the potential of a Thunder vs. Warriors series is so much more fun than if the Spurs had advanced. I’m glad that I didn’t get my way in the previous round and that the Spurs choked.
I cannot wait to see what kind of fire Russell Westbrook plays with in the upcoming games. He’s one of the most incendiary players in the league and plays at such a blistering pace. He’s so competitive that I imagine he takes Steph Curry’s back-to-back MVP awards as a personal offense. I want to see what he can do against the Warriors, maybe the best regular season team of all time. It will be fascinating to see if Westbrook and Durant can scrape out some wins against historical greatness. I hope this series goes to 7 games, I need to see as many games between these two as possible.