NBA Playoffs – Day 38

The Thunder put the Warriors on the brink.

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We’ve got a big one tonight: Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals! The Thunder are riding high after their big win in Game 3, which has them up 2-1. The Warriors really need a big bounce back win, or they’ll find themselves heading home on the ropes. It’s safe to expect a rowdy atmosphere, especially after Draymond Green did not get suspended for tonight, after kicking new OKC hero Steven Adams in the nuts. Both teams have a ton to play for tonight. If the Thunder win, they’ll be one win away from the Finals against the team that just set the record for wins in a season. Needless to say, we could be in for a classic tonight…or not. How should I know? I’m not clairvoyant.

9:00 pm – We’re here in Oklahoma City for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on TNT! Marv Albert welcomes us in, and tells us that Draymond Green received a tremendous shower of boos when he was introduced. Chris Webber and Reggie Miller are also on hand to help narrate.

9:02 – The Warriors win the opening tip, and we’re underway!

9:03 – Steven Adams hits a pair of free throws for the first points of the ball game. It gives the Thunder a 2-0 lead.

9:04 – Klay Thompson gets into the paint and banks home a short range shot, and we’re tied at two.

9:11 – Dion Waiters, off the bench early for the Thunder, knocks down a three, and they’re on a 9-0 run. It leads to a time out with the score Oklahoma City 15, Golden State 8 with 7:03 left in the first quarter.

9:15 – After an offensive rebound finds its way to Russell Westbrook in the corner, he rises up and hits a three, and the Thunder run is now up to 16-0. Our score’s now Oklahoma City 22, Golden State 8 with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

9:24 – After a Kevin Durant turnover, Shawn Livingston gets a layup for the Warriors as they try to inch back into this game. It leads to a time out with the score Oklahoma City 28, Golden State 19 with 2:35 left in the opening quarter. Draymond Green has had a lousy start for the Warriors, with 0 points and three turnovers in an unfortunate nine minutes of action.

9:31 – The first quarter comes to an end with the Warriors on an 11-2 run, making the score Oklahoma City 30, Golden State 26. Despite Draymond Green’s struggles, and Steph Curry shooting just 1-7, the Warriors have withstood the Thunder’s opening volley and have gotten back into the game. Festus Ezeli played a big hand in the Warriors run, coming off the bench for six quick points on 3-3 shooting.

9:36 – A pair of Kevin Durant free throws scores the first points of the second quarter and extends the Thunder lead to 32-26.

9:38 – After an Enes Kanter turnover, Klay Thompson gets himself a layup, and the Warriors are starting to look better and better, as Thunder turnovers are letting them back into the game. It leads to a time out with the score Oklahoma City 32, Golden State 30 with 10:07 left in the first half.

9:52 – We have a time out in between a couple of Steven Adams free throws. He hit the first one, to make the score Oklahoma City 47, Golden State 40 with 6:03 left in the second quarter. It’s been a fast paced, chaotic game thus far, filled with turnovers and lots of hustle. It’s reminiscent of one of those fast paced Playoff games from the 1980s, only with more fouls.

9:56 – Up 48-40, the Thunder decide to intentionally foul lousy Warriors free throw shooter, Festus Ezeli, perhaps to slow down Golden State’s pace. Ezeli obliges by missing both free throws.

9:59 – Steven Adams throws an awesome pass to Andre Roberson under the hoop for a dunk! The Warriors call a time out as the Thunder are starting to build their lead back up. It’s Oklahoma City 56, Golden State 43 with 4:05 left until halftime. Take a look at it, because it might just be my favorite play of the series so far, if not the entire Playoffs.

10:03 – Another intentional foul of Festus Ezeli. Once again he goes 0-2 from the line as the Thunder look to disrupt the Warriors flow and continue to build their lead.

10:05 – Ezeli goes 1-2 from the line this time, and the Warriors retaliate by intentionally fouling Andre Roberson to try and kill OKC’s momentum. They also take the opportunity to remove Ezeli from the game. Roberson misses both of his free throws, and the Thunder lead, 61-46.

10:14 – We’ve made it to halftime, and OKC’s momentum has not been killed. In fact, it’s only grown, and the score’s Oklahoma City 72, Golden State 53 after a Russell Westbrook three to cap off another great first half for the Thunder. Westbrook’s up to 21 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists, a fine stat line for an entire game, let alone a half. Kevin Durant has 18 points and 6 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka has 15 points and 5 boards. Steph Curry leads the Warriors with 15, but he’s shooting just 4-14 from the field. As a whole, the Warriors have been completely taken out of their comfort zone by the Thunder’s athleticism and chaos. Golden State seems demoralized, and they’ve been forcing a lot of bad plays, leading to turnovers, and momentum for the Thunder, who have 72 points at halftime for the second consecutive game. As a result, they’re24 minutes of basketball away from putting the defending champion, 73-win Warriors on the brink of elimination.

10:23 – It’s time for tonight’s riveting trip down memory lane with Today in NBA Playoff History, brought to you by Basketball-Reference!

We’re going back to May 24, 1998 to see the Utah Jazz advance to their second straight Finals with a 96-92 victory over the Lakers, completing a sweep of the Western Conference Finals. Karl Malone had 32 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists to lead the Jazz to a close victory. Current NBA on TNT studio analyst Shaquille O’Neal scored 38 points for the Lakers, and grabbed 7 rebounds, but he’d have to wait a little longer before taking LA to the Finals. As for the Jazz, they went on to lose the championship to the Bulls in six games.

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Karl Malone and John Stockton realizing they have no chance of beating the Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals.

10:32 – Andrew Bogut tips in a miss, and it’s the first bucket of the third quarter, cutting the Warriors deficit to 72-55.

10:42 – Klay Thompson knocks down a three over Kevin Durant, and the Warriors are starting to show some signs of life here. They still have some work to do, but things are looking better for them with the score Oklahoma City 76, Golden State 65 with 7:56 left in the third. If any team can make a come back in this situation, it’s the Warriors.

10:51 – Russell Westbrook gets a steal, and as he so often does, takes it the length of the court for a layup. It leads to a time out with the score Oklahoma City 84, Golden State 74 with 3:48 left in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson has scored 19 straight points for the Warriors, as he’s personally keeping them within striking distance.

10:55 – As we come back from time out, Klay Thompson is on the bench. Another Warrior finally scores as Festus Ezeli goes 1-2 from the free throw line, and the Warriors now trail, 84-75.

11:02 – The third quarter ends with a strange scrum as both teams scramble for control of a loose ball. As it happens, the buzzer sounds, and we’re heading into the fourth with the score Oklahoma City 94, Golden State 82. The Thunder survived a furious volley from Klay Thompson, who scored those 19 points in a row for the Warriors. Despite that, OKC still has their double-digit lead as we make the turn down the stretch in this one.

11:06 – Klay Thompson leads off the fourth quarter with a three pointer, and the Warriors deficit is back to single digits at 94-85.

11:09 – We have a time out in between a pair of Kevin Durant free throws. He hit the first one, so our score’s Oklahoma City 98, Golden State 85 with 9:30 left in the game.

11:18 – Russell Westbrook finds Andre Roberson for a basket, and the Thunder are putting this away here in the fourth. It’s Oklahoma City 107, Golden State 89 with 5:37 left in the game. By the way, Westbrook’s got himself a triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

11:25 – Russell Westbrook knocks down a three to put the final nail in the Warriors coffin tonight. It’s Oklahoma City 114, Golden State 91 with 3:15 remaining. Westbrook’s up to 36 points to go along with those 10 rebounds and 11 assists of his.

11:28 – We’re back from time out, and the Warriors have put in the guys from the end of the bench. They’ve officially thrown in the towel on this one.

11:33 – Game 4 draws to a close with a final score of Oklahoma City 118, Golden State 94. It’s the first time the Warriors have lost consecutive games all season long. Wow.

Russell Westbrook had a fantastic game, springing for 36 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and 4 steals. Kevin Durant added 26 points and 11 rebounds, and Andre Roberson had a fantastic effort, contributing 17 points, 12 rebounds and 5 steals. Not bad for a guy the Warriors were ignoring on defense a few games ago. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 26 points and 5 rebounds, but got little help. Steph Curry shot just 6-20, including 2-10 from downtown, finishing with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Draymond Green had a miserable game, finishing with 6 points on 1-7 shooting, although he did haul in 11 rebounds.

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All sorts of questions are already starting to creep out. Is Steph Curry secretly injured? Are the Warriors exhausted after gunning for 73 wins all season? What’s up with Draymond Green? Let’s hold off on those for now and give the Thunder a ton of credit. They’ve morphed into an unstoppable, chaotic team, and it’s been fantastic to watch. On top of that, the Warriors aren’t dead yet! The goddamn Rockets came back from a 3-1 deficit last year, so you’d think the 73-9, defending champion Warriors could pull it off. That being said, they’re facing a precarious situation. One more loss, and they’re done, and all of those questions are going to get a lot more loud and obnoxious.

As for the Thunder, if they’re going to end this series in five games, they will have to do so at The Oracle, which will no doubt be a madhouse of enthusiastic desperation. Of course, the Thunder have already won a game there this series, and they have the Warriors on the ropes. They have a chance to do something truly unprecedented, because I can’t think of any other team that has done anything close to following up defeating a 67 win team with eliminating a 73 win team.

Can Game 5 start right now?

Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

1 thought on “NBA Playoffs – Day 38”

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