Golden State Warriors 96 — Oklahoma City Thunder 88
I can’t imagine anyone being surprised at what transpired at Oracle on Monday night as the Warriors closed out the Thunder by a final score of 96-88. It’s about what I thought it would be. The Thunder to their credit did play hard, but this series was over after the Dustin Johnson three putt on Saturday night on the final hole inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. That was when the Warriors in fact escaped the fate every other team in Western Conference Finals history before them suffered when trailing 3-1 after four games. Namely, losing the series.
This will haunt the Thunder forever if they never win an NBA championship. It was there to be had–a trip to the NBA Finals, but instead a Tin Cup meltdown for the ages in those last five minutes in Game 6. A subtle suggestion to Durant and Westbrook…next time lay up with the seven iron and leave the three wood in the bag.
I hate the C word, but what else am I supposed to write? This will be an ending which haunts Durant and Westbrook forever until they finally get over the hump and win a championship if not in OKC–somewhere else.
This was their defining moment and it sucks for me to write this because I so much wanted it to end differently for them and the Thunder.
I’ll be fine. My heart will mend. Already has in fact because I have a life and don’t live vicariously through others. I’ll watch every game of the Finals between the Warriors and Cavs like I’ve watched every game of the NBA Finals for a very long time. But I’m not sure what this does to the hearts of Durant, Westbrook, and their teammates.
This isn’t the kind of thing you just blow off. This was epic. This was like Mitch ‘Wild Thing’ Williams giving up the walkoff homer to OKC’s own Joe Carter in the World Series, or Dustin Johnson three putting on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open to give away a U.S. Open.
This is the kind of loss which defines an athlete unless he has the grit to overcome it in the end by winning a championship and exorcising the demons.
In the end, the difference in this series was when Golden State absolutely had to have it from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson their superstars played with grit, smarts, and a mental toughness befitting a champion.
Durant and Westbrook didn’t.
I have no idea whatsoever why Durant and Westbrook would ever make fun of Steph Curry. Moral of the story….. don’t ever mock a baby-faced assassin or his sidekick named Klay.
So where do the Thunder go from here with Durant’s free agency becoming a reality on July 1st?
I have no idea. But I know this, if Durant wants to ever beat Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, or LeBron instead of joining them the most talented roster resides with Sam Presti in Oklahoma City.
But there are some positives to be gleaned here. Steven Adams turned into a star and the kind of player who can become the competitive soul of a basketball team. For all the sorrow Game 6 has brought upon Thunder Nation, take solace in the fact Steven Adams proved Sam Presti knew exactly what he was doing when he used the Toronto pick from the Harden trade to select Adams.
Adams has now officially usurped Nick Collison as my favorite Thunder player. What can you not love about him except his hair? Steven Adams is the kind of guy you want on your hockey team. Thank you, Steven Adams.
I thought Andre Roberson took a big step forward. He still can’t shoot a basketball well enough consistently, but the other parts of his game are excellent and like with Adams–I love his competitive soul.
Not sure what Presti should do with Dion Waiters as he enters restricted free agency this summer. Dion took strides forward as well, but I’m not sure how much I’d pay to keep Waiters if the matching price goes beyond his realistic worth.
Other than Durant and Waiters, every other player on the Thunder roster is under contract for next season.
I’ll write this and hope somehow Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook somehow stumble upon this and read it like a message in a bottle washed upon a shore.
You’re both incredible young men and Oklahoma City loves both of you, but you are not going to win a championship anywhere until you learn how to consistently weave your games alongside those of your teammates for 48 minutes when you’re playing against the super elite teams like the Warriors and Cavs.
You can beat the other 26 teams in the NBA just on your physical talent, but not the Warriors and not LeBron playing like you do.
You can go to LA and both become Mini Kobes wearing twin No. 24 jerseys, but here’s the thing, until you learn to make your teammates better your games aren’t moving to the next level despite what your agents and handlers might tell you. This is your ceiling until that happens.
And here’s one other thing in closing as I wrap this up. Let’s say hypothetically, Sam Presti had gleaned Chandler Parsons alongside Steven Adams in the Harden trade. Let’s just pretend for a moment Chandler Parsons was on the floor with you for those last five fateful minutes in Game 6.
Would he have ever touched the ball?
You tell me.