The way Saturday night’s prime time matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors was being hyped, you would have sworn you were tuning into the new-jack version of last year’s Game 7 in Western Conference Finals or something. Well, that is if you hadn’t been watching the NBA at all this year.
The Warriors have won over 85% of their games this year, now have a record of 46-8 and are undeniably on the third leg of one of the greatest three-year runs the league has ever seen.
Behind the nuclear athleticism, hunger, play-making and unstoppable force of nature that is Russell Westbrook, in addition to an exceptional coaching job once again this year by the underrated future Hall of Famer Billy Donovan, OKC is surprisingly 31-24 and poised to snag a playoff birth.
Not many saw that as a realistic scenario when the Thunder lost Kevin Durant via free agency to the Warriors, the team they lost to in last year’s Western Conference Finals, during the offseason.
We all heard the stories, that Russ and KD haven’t spoken since, that there’s animosity and bad blood, that in Durant’s first appearance in Oklahoma City as a visiting player, how he’d be boo’d mercilessly, blah blah blah.
Now if you’s seen what happened during the previous two games that these teams have played this year, you pretty much knew how the script would play out.
In their first game in early November, Durant splashed seven 3-pointers and scored 39 points, while thoroughly destroying Russell Westbrook and his former crew in Golden State’s 122-96 rout. Russ walked into that game averaging 38 points per game, but walked quietly into the night with an unimpactful 20, ten of which came from the free throw line.
Game 2 was best remembered by Russ promising to later pay Zaza Pachulia back for some fake thuggery, but despite Russ’ 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists, KD once again broke the Thunder’s back with a 40-point explosion in the Warriors 121-100 beat-down.
I tuned in to Saturday night’s game expecting more of the same. Basically I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know.
As phenomenal as Westbrook is, he’s severely outgunned in going up against the top teams in the west. Durant scored 34 points as the Warriors embarrassed OKC again in a laugher, 130-114.
As far as blowouts go, these games are always entertaining because the Westbrook-Durant feud seems to be fomenting, and they are two of the game’s all-time great players who were once partners in crime.
Russ was his usual spectacular self with 47 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and any game he plays in is worth watching. But if you think this is some type of rivalry, especially after seeing their first two games, you probably took your toddler to see Bad Santa 2 thinking it would be a holiday family movie, despite the fact that your silly behind already saw part one.
Here’s what we already knew: Durant is one of the most remarkable players ever – appreciate him, Golden State is historically great – marvel at them, Russ is the hoops version of Freddie Krueger – you can not kill him, and Oklahoma City minus KD, even with Westbrook on the roster, is simply the Jacksons without Michael – they’ll never go platinum!
We did learn one thing, and that is that Russ and KD actually are talking again. They were seen barking back and forth with another, with Westbrook emphatically saying, “I’m coming! I’m coming! I’m coming!”
Yeah, we know it Russ, and that’s what makes you so amazing to watch. You’re coming like Big Daddy Kane, R-A-W, a terrorist, here to bring trouble to phony KD’s, you move on and seize, and just conquer, and stomp another player with ease.
But this ain’t no fake, or cupcake, KD. He’s the real deal. And when the very best teams are battling it out in the conference finals this year, no matter how much you want to go and claim that you’re coming, you have to have an invite to get in that party, bro.
And that just ain’t happening.