The highest praise that I can think of for this Thunder-Warriors matchup — and I guess I’m thinking about tonight’s Game 6 more than anything — is that I cannot even decide how to best experience it.
Whether to invest emotions into the outcome is a starting point. For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve been cheering for OKC in these playoffs. I loved seeing them take down the Spurs, and I have enjoyed even more how they’ve been upsetting these incredible, 73-win, defending-champion Warriors. I could make up a rationale about wanting to see Durant validated with a ring, or something about Westbrook being the best live entertainer in the league (which is true), but I think the truth is that I just tend to cheer for the best team that hasn’t won it yet.
Sports fandom at this level has an inherent ridiculousness to it, and it only gets dumber when people try to rationalize their feelings. But one problem with caring too much about whether the Thunder win, or the Warriors win — setting aside the risk of being upset if things don’t go your way — is that by doing so you forfeit the simple experience of witnessing history play out with clear eyes.
That might mean focusing too much on officiating, or whether a certain elbow or kick is worthy of a Flagrant 1 or 2. It might mean chalking up Steph Curry’s on and off struggles to injury, or perceived uncalled fouls instead of thinking about, and observing how this is the first time he’s been seriously tested since becoming the world’s top player. It might mean, depending on how things shake out, missing the moment when Durant takes that title back away from him.
There is so much going on in this series to fascinate hoops junkies:
- Splash Brothers
- Thunder’s switching defense, which might be Curry’s Kryptonite
- Small ball vs Offensive rebounding
- Draymond Green teetering on the line between intense and insane
- Westbrook also teetering on the line between intense and insane
- Durant being amazing
- Durant being decidedly less amazing when Iguodala is checking him
- Steve Kerr’s trust in his bench
- Dion Waiters inexplicable giving Billy Donovan new hope that he can trust his bench too
- How should (or shouldn’t) the Warriors defend Andre Roberson?
- Steven Adams
- Steven Adams and Draymond Green
The list could go on.
I don’t mean to suggest that cheering for one team or the other means going blind to all of the basketball greatness. But attention is a resource and it’d be a shame to waste too much of it on things that don’t matter very much. The best basketball in the world is going to be played tonight, and I plan to do my best to enjoy it for that reason alone.
But I’m also gonna be pissed off if the Thunder blow this chance to close on their home court.