Never test or question the heart of a true champion. Oklahoma City learned that the hard way, blowing a 3-1 series lead and allowing defending-champion Golden State to rise from the abyss and defeat them on Monday night, 96-88 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
Next up for Chef Curry and The Potcookers is LeBron James and his latest championship-striving compilation of stars and veteran specialists.
But that’s another story for Thursday, when Game 1 tips off at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
The first four games of this series was all OKC. The Thunder played inspired basketball, ferocious defense and their pair of All-Stars were hotter than fish grease jumping off grandma’s pan.
Steph Curry was visibly affected by the length of OKC defenders and it got so bad and OKC was brimming with such confidence at that point that during a postgame presser, Russell Westbrook even snickered at the suggestion that Curry could guard him. Durant then threw in some jabs about Curry not guarding the best point guards.
Machismo is a great quality to have in sports, however it’s math that makes the world go round, and the odds said that Golden State wouldn’t lose four of seven games to anyone, because they hadn’t all season.
Besides, they have more weapons than The Soviets during the Cold War Era. It’s such a luxury for Curry to have an equally devastating mad bomber on his hip in Slay Thompson (21 points) to take the pressure off the MVP when he is being triple-teamed under the trees.
As they continue to make their ascension to best backcourt in NBA history, the last three games of this series, culminating with last night’s tag team throwdown, was as clutch and classic as could be.
People tend to forget that we are often splitting hairs when comparing the Final Four teams in any sport. Even the most dominant squads will have to come back from the brink of adversity a time or two to complete the mission.
Nobody gets handed anything in pro sports.
Each competitor believes they can dethrone the champs. OKC surely did and they convinced a legion of NBA fans. That press conference was the turning point in the series, where Durant and Westbrook once again showed their immaturity and lack of understanding about what it takes to win a championship. You always have to protect your lead, stay humble and watch your team’s back. Westbrook didn’t have his team’s best interest in mind when he basically tried to play Steph at the presser.
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You think a guy who came from the bottom and grinded for every inch of respect he ever got, is going to go out like a sucker? Especially after you basically laughed at his two MVP’s and shiny ball?
If anything, OKC put the battery in Steph’s back and the way he dribbled and drove, and dipped and dished and decapitated OKC’s hoop dreams with 36 points, including seven treys to finish with an NBA-record 32 in a seven-game series, let everybody know that Golden State is all about the turn up.
Curry and Thompson each topped the previous record for 3's in a seven-game series, 28 by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen. Game 6 hero Thompson wound up with 30.
Steve Kerr’s hoop troop has a different gear; one that other teams don’t possess. Durant and Westbrook basically shot their load by Game 5. That’s when Golden State was just kicking into turbo warp. Golden State still has a gear it hasn’t reached and that’s a scary thought for Cleveland fans.
Most people understood that if KD and Westbrook didn’t close the Warriors out before Game 7, the momentum and advantage would be all Golden State’s. The early smugness, turned to confidence which turned to concern which turned into a nightmare for OKC fans and those anti-Curry social media maggots who troll and pole, while he delivers nothing but incomparable soul in the hole.
It’s so cool watching an assassin throw off the gloves and do whatever it takes to win. At one point Golden State wasn’t even running the offense. It was Curry handling the pill like Curly Neal in a Harlem Globetrotters show.
The controlled chaos that he brings to the game was on full, magnificent display. And his respect doesn’t live in his dominance. Curry gets his props because he too experiences failure, but he knows how to rebound from it and the journey is real. As a fan you feel the peaks and valleys and remember the mountains he has climbed to get to his current space among the game’s greatest players ever.