Monday, February 29, 2016

NBA Instant Classic Recap

This guy. Credit: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

This is more of an open love letter than a blog post.  Watching the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder engage in basketball combat was extraordinary.  There had been a lot of “showdowns” for the Warriors.  There was the Christmas Day Finals rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers that had its moments, but was wasn’t much in doubt in its waning possessions. The rematch of that game sparked a series of double digit wins over playoff teams, including a 30 burger they hung on the San Antonio Spurs.

But on February 6th the Thunder sauntered in to Oracle and gave the champs everything they could’ve wanted.  So the rematch tantalized fans’ thoughts with open court genius Russell Westbrook and the slick shooting of Kevin Durant vs the Machine driven by Steph Curry.

And it certainly didn’t disappoint.

OKC jumped on top of the Warriors immediately, going up by double digits in the first. The rest of the game saw the Thunder defending their lead against the ever-surging Warriors.  They lost their halftime lead in the third but Durant’s bombs from outside were enough for the Warriors relent and for OKC to take the lead. In fact, the Thunder had a four point lead with 15 secs left.  After a Klay Thompson layup, OKC had the ball and the lead with 12 seconds left. Then Durant went the full spectrum of the term “goat”. His turnover gave the Warriors a last gasp and they took full advantage.  A surprisingly smooth Andre Iguodola rewarded the fans with overtime basketball from the foul line.
The Thunder let the champs off the mat, and we were all treated to pitfalls of that decision. Russell Westbrook was valiant in his attempt to will his team (without Durant, who had been disqualified for fouls) to victory.  But after a stop on OKC’s penultimate possession, the Warriors had a live ball and around 7 seconds left. 

Now let me say this, I know no one will believe me, but I called the next sequence of events. Draymond Green snagged the rebound and calmly looked for Steph Curry. That’s right, not only does he get the ball and immediately look to outlet, he does so while also having the presence of mind to get it to their best player early in the possession. Curry then proceeds to receive the outlet and slow play it across the halfcourt line.  I sat in stupefied awe of his decision, manely because it was probably the percentage play.  Is Steph Curry better with his feet under him, in rhthym from a really long distance, or hurried into a contested three from a closer distance? I’d take the former over the latter any day—and so did Curry.

There will be plenty of time to laud and decry the performances of the participants, but for now I just want to bask in the glow of a shining example of why this is the world’s best sport.

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