By Tyler Gilbert

The Oklahoma City Thunder- OKC has been a team under much scrutiny this season.

 

They have gone from a team that looks like they might not make the playoffs into a playoff juggernaut. They have a rookie coach in Billy Donovan who was brought in to manage two of the league’s top five players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  Kevin Durant has polarized the NBA in the past, but has battled with injuries the last few years. His impending free agency after this season has caused everyone to dissect his play this season, leaving some to question would he return to his prolific form. Durant has been stellar this season, but there also have been reasons for concern if he could actually win a championship with Westbrook. Westbrook is an electrifying player in his own right, one of the game’s most ferocious competitors. Yet many question his basketball I.Q. and his ability to be Durant’s sidekick. So the question lingers if they can win on the big stage together? Or will Durant leave after the season?

 

The Golden State Warriors- GSW has had a mystical season, the closest to perfection than any other team in history of the NBA. They have highlighted the NBA headlines throughout the season. They have achieved multiple accolades for instance: the most wins in a single season, the League’s MVP, Coach of the Year, and the Defensive player of the year award. In addition to those accomplishments Golden State has the reigning MVP for the last two year, Stephen Curry. Curry has either broken records or lead the NBA in several statical categories. Curry has one of the most silky smooth game on the planet. He has dazzled the NBA with his feathery lightning quick shot, slippery elusive handle or his magical eye-popping passing. It is easy to say that Curry has become the NBA’s golden child, who do no wrong. It is evident by his jersey being the top selling jersey in the league. In addition to the attention that his family garners. People are enamored by his toddler Riley and his beautiful wife Ayesha, hanging on every word they speak. Can Curry lead the Warriors to another Championship putting the finishing touches on record breaking season? 

 

Many people were planning on deeming the Warriors to be the greatest team ever after winning 73 games this season, but  OKC has brought those thoughts to a screeching halt in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors have been outplayed for the majority of the series.   Silencing Golden State emotional leader Draymond Green, who has caused much ruckus in this series with his flailing and edgy play. KD appears to have matured as the leader of OKC, rallying the troops even when he has a mediocre  game. Westbrook has shown the resiliency to bounce back after bad decisions and take ownership of his mistakes. OKC has gone from a team that only relies on their two superstars to a team that works as an cohesive unit. They have started to get key contributions from Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson. Much of this is credited to the x and o’s man Billy Donovan. Coach Donovan has employed a small ball line-up with Ibaka at the five and Durant at the four. This line-up has neutralized the Warriors small ball line-up that has disrupted the NBA all season. There have been nine times in the history of the NBA Playoffs where a team was down 3-1 in a series and came back to win. Golden State needs to be perfect for the next two games, something that they were skillful during  the months October and November of the season. Golden State has taken one step in that direction with the series now 3-2. The question is has the Warriors magic run out? It’s too close to call. I have a feeling that this series goes 7 games.

 

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