As Statement Games go, it wasn’t quite MJ’s 63 points in the old Boston Garden (a game I grew up watching on tape) or even LeBron’s 45-15-5 of just a few days ago. But in this game, Kevin Durant and the Thunder confirmed what many of us knew before – that when KD’s offensive game is flowing, he’s near unstoppable.
This game was one of the second-half comebacks OKC have perfected over the course of this playoff series, being 7 points down at halftime. I managed to catch most of it, but was suffering from a nasty hangover after excessively celebrating Tuesday’s Stanley Cup victory by the Kings (the first time a team I support in any sport has won a title in my lifetime) and wrote this up after State of Origin while drinking vodka from the bottle. So yeah, I’m a raging alcoholic. But that’s a tale for another day.
3 votes – Kevin Durant. Like I said – this was a Statement Game from KD. The statement being that he and his young team are not gonna lie down this series, not that anyone expected them to, and that he can absolutely Stephen Jackson the pressure of the Finals. (By which I mean he can make love to it – a famous Jax quote). 36/8/4 is an impressive statline, but factor in a couple of late shots (including a dagger 3 that pretty much sealed the game) and that was it.
2 votes – Russell Westbrook. I’m giving up trying to figure this Durant/Westbrook combo out. All I’ll say is that tonight was a Westbrook game. Some freakish athletic plays, a few silly turnovers and bad shots (he really needs to stop settling for mid range jumpers off the dribble) and once again he took more shots than Durant – but somehow they just keep getting it done between them. How, I don’t have a clue. But he put up 27 points and 11 assists tonight and knew to take a back seat when it mattered. Maybe that’s why they work.
1 vote – Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison Couldn’t decide between these two for the final point. The Thunder are where they are as much because of their role players as anything. Both these guys have a defined role on the team – for Sefolosha it’s lockdown D, for Collison its rebounding/energy – and they know what they’re expected to do on the court and execute appropriately. Even though I’ve called Sam Presti an overrated GM in the past, I credit him for being able to find the right sort of role players who not only have the skills but the unselfish mentality to do their jobs and not freelance (although he never had to “find” Collison, who was drafted by the Sonics in 03).
I got more drinking to do. This has been the two best sporting days of my life so far. Go Kings and Go Blues.