Now that the Warriors have done what champions do, i.e. rising from the ashes as if domiciled in Phoenix not Golden State and overcoming a 1-3 deficit to win the Western Conference title, now that order has been restored in that half of the NBA, what are we to make of the vanquished?
Specifically, of Russell Westbrook?
When the Great Scorer comes to call shall he remember the OKC sparkplug for his on court actions as a hell bent for leather, point guard of fury?
Or, shall it be for that thinly veiled press conference snicker? The one Westbrook took no pains to hide, when his running partner Kevin Durant was giving a diplomatic if dismissive response to a question about arch foe Steph Curry’s D.
At that juncture the Thunder were riding high, on the brink of the seemingly insurmountable, beating San Antonio and Golden State in consecutive series to make their first championship round as Sooners. The Spurs had been defeated. Three chances remained to close out the Warriors.
So, Westbrook, overconfident, full of himself after leading his charges to consecutive beatdowns at home, couldn’t contain his premature glee.
Forgetting it ain’t over til the Valkyrie Brünnhilde lets loose with her Götterdämmurungian aria, Westbrook giggled at the prospect of charging past the vulnerable checking of his two time MVP counterpart.
Tsk, tsk, my man. He who laughs last laughs best.
Exactly what Westbrook is thinking, we can only surmise, but not know for sure. As of the mid-afternoon after, we’ve yet to hear from RW. His coach Billy the Kid, Kevin Durant, several of his teammates, they’ve all stood tall and weighed in on the crushing defeat. They’ve expressed their disappointments and given props to the victors.
Surely not smiling now, RW has so far outdone Cam Newton. He hasn’t shown his face.
While Curry and his Dubs are chortling their way to a Championship Round pas de deux with Cleveland’s Cavaliers.
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Beyond the pure sensationalism of Golden State’s style of play — run, cut, pick, dart, pick, back cut, run some more, then launch from Silicon Valley — one must consider if this is a new way to play the game?
No less an observer than Rick Pitino, after admitting the obvious, that he was rooting for his protogé Billy Donovan to prevail, thinks so.
During his catch up press conference this noon, he admitted that much. That indeed Curry, the best shooter he’s ever seen, and one of the best ball handlers, along with Splash Bro Klay Thompson, are indeed changing the game.
After marveling that Curry, because of the arc of his shot, shoots at a bigger rim than everyone else., the Louisville coach observed that everybody in the pros is moving to small ball, to try to play the way Golden State plays.1
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Which works when you have a group of ballers who, in the cauldron of a Game 7, can net 17 treys in 37 tries. When you’ve got role players like Draymond Green and Andre Igoudala and Marreese Speights, who are almost as accurate from beyond the arc as the Splash duo.
This is the greatest gathering of shooters since Annie “Little Miss Sure Shot” Oakley and her hubby Frank Butler starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
When it mattered most, in Game 7, not in an off court meet and greet with scribes, Steph Curry went 13/24 from the field, including 7 made triples — the most ever in a Game 7 — to lead his team to the Finals.
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To be fair to Westbrook and Durant, last night’s outcome, if not a fait accompli, was a reasonable certainty. And both OKC stars acquitted themselves admirably.
The Thunder were simply shorthanded. Donovan only got 41 minutes of action off the bench from three players, 32 of those from Dion Waiters.
While six different Warriors provided 59 minutes of relief to GS’s starting five. Including a surprising two minutes from Anderson Varejo, who was +5 for that minuscule amount of court time.
The real let down for Oklahoma City’s dynamic duo was the last three minutes of Game 6 on the home court. The Thunder committed 6 turnovers in its 8 possessions. All by Westbrook and Durant.
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Thus we have left a Best o’ Seven Finals rematch as tantalizing as any ever.
King LeBron looking to cement his legacy and bring a title to his homies in the City by the Lake.
Golden State looking to repeat, after a 73 W regular season for the ages.
Let’s tip it off.
— Seedy K