We must surely be grateful that the Memphis Grizzlies stopped trying months ago, because their indolence is the instrument that will prevent us from the horror scenario of an Oklahoma City-Golden State playoff series.
The Fightin’ Westbrooks need only beat the Grizz to finish sixth or higher in the morass that is the Western Conference, and thus avoid the Warriors. At least for one round, anyway. Once the playoffs start, everybopdy is on their own, and you take what is presented you.
Our fear of a Thunder-Warriors series has nothing to do with rooting interest (I have none), relative strengths or weaknesses of either team (the Warriors clinched weeks ago, the Thunder Sunday night), or a list of arcane matchup conundra for each side (that’s for the analytics kids). The Warriors are the better team and ought to prove as much.
No, this is about the latest tedious rehash of the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook drama of 21 months ago, because you know if the Thunder and Warriors end up playing each other, whether in the very unlikely event of Round 1 or the more likely Round 2, that’s what we’ll get, because that’s who we are.
The Durant-Westbrook was at one point an interesting byplay between two men, one of whom was hurt and angered by the departure of the other. That came, and it went, and the only trace that remains is the tedious cupcake placards held up from attention addicts in the 100 section.
In other words, this is a genuinely tired meme that people don’t actually want to make the effort to be tired of referencing.
But is also an entertainment-denying theme because the series actually has some entertainment value, at least in so far as there is a significant stylistic difference between the two teams.
Oklahoma City runs too much through Westbrook, and even to this date is still trying to make sense of Carmelo Anthony, the last victim of pure stop-action isolation. Paul George sometimes fits seamlessly, sometimes not so much, and the only true constant is Steven Adams.
The Warriors, on the other hand, are still claiming to be a true ensemble even though more people demand that Durant make it his team because of the continued absence of Stephen Curry. This basic misunderstanding of what the Warriors are and what they do has gone on despite more than 300 games of evidence, and trying to change people’s minds on it is now an official WOT.
Waste. Of. Time.
But it is time people are still eager to waste, and worse, it is time those people are willing to waste on the behalf of people who didn’t ask for it.
Which means that we as a nation desperately need anything but Thunder-Warriors, if only for our sanity and to strike a blow against tired story lines. In short, we need Memphis to be Memphis one final time, and then we need Portland or Utah to hold serve and eliminate the Thunder when the actual season begins.
The alternative is hell.