I love basketball. I love it and I'm not ashamed of it at all. I've probably watched over 400 games this year divided between college and the NBA. I've watched a mixture of EuroLeague, high school and South American games. Yes, I have the most expensive sports package that DirecTV makes available to me. It has gotten me a few evil glances from the wife when the bill arrives, but she loves me and I know that it won't cause a divorce. Well so I think. She may think otherwise.
Big Lo married us and none of his weddings have ever ended in divorce. Like Carl Spackler, I got that goin' for me, which is nice.
The past two days have made me so happy that I have not stopped watching the NBA.
On Sunday, I watched the Thunder beat the Grizzlies. This was a game that the Thunder had no business winning and it is possible they might not win another game in this series. What was special about this game was the emergence of Kevin Durant and him putting the team on his back and carrying it like a true superstar should. There have been a few moments where that has almost happened in the past, but Russell Westbrook was there to mess it up. His shot with 11.1 seconds left in the game was almost a bone head moment. It was a one on three break, no way his team gets the rebound if he misses the shot and that could have cost the Thunder the game, but caution be damned. You could tell the only thing the ball was hitting was the inside of the net as soon as it left his hand.
Memphis then misses it's next shot, Reggie Jackson hits one of two free throws. Memphis was down three with only a few seconds left. Quincy Pondexter ends up taking the last shot for Memphis and he is fouled behind the three point line. If he makes all three free throws the game heads to overtime. If.
I saw on Twitter just before he went to the line, I can't remember who it was and I can't find it again, but it said, "Never trust a Husky in the clutch unless it's Nate Robinson."
Q-Pon missed the first free throw, Memphis was going to lose unless a miracle happened, it didn't and I thought to myself, "Juan Dixon would have somehow made four free throws in that situation." Juan Dixon is God (not a) and you'll never convince a Maryland grad/fan otherwise. The term, "Oh my Juan" exists for a reason.
Then we had a classic NBA playoff matchup between the Knicks and Pacers. Pacers played physical, Knicks couldn't handle it and Spike Lee went home, presumably crying.
Then tonight we had a game between the Bulls and the Heat. A game that the Heat should have won by 30. The Heat were rusty and no matter what they did they couldn't put the Bulls away. Jimmy Butler played the whole game and did a great job on shutting down LeBron in the first half, holding the MVP of the league to the worst half of the year. Heat would take a lead, Chicago would fight back, just kept going that way until the last two minutes when Nate Robinson took over. Not even LeBron James could shut him down. Dwayne Wade couldn't stay in front of him and Nate couldn't miss. He was clutch.
After the game Nate told Craig Sager, "He'd rather have more heart than height." Despite his generous 5'7" frame, his heart and determination is twice that. Hell of a player. Bulls are a hell of a team. They don't quit. If you are not watching them you are missing out on some great team ball and some of the best defense you'll have ever seen from a team in the last decade. They are special.
Then the main event happened.
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors headed to San Antonio to play the Spurs.
For those of you who are refusing the watch the NBA you are missing out something special. Curry was drafted seventh by the Warriors in 2009, he had some serious ankle issues and even some this year, but he has a shot that defies physics. His shot is so pure it doesn't touch the net. The kid is magical and you are missing something special. Something very special.
Warriors haven't won in San Antonio since 1997. The Spurs hadn't drafted Tim Duncan yet and Manu Ginobili was playing for the Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca, a lower level Argentinian pro team.
Warriors were on fire, got up 18 in the fourth quarter, shooting 78% for the half and Stephen Curry could have pulled a Rick Tuten (he still punts for the Seahawks, right?) and punted the ball from the locker room and he would have made five in a row. That's how locked in he was.
Then Greg Popavich put Kawhi Leonard on him, he started missing and the Spurs came back and tied the game at 106 with a beautiful three from Danny Green.
Through the first overtime the teams traded shots, there was this annoying woman in the crowd right by the microphone of the TV camera or something who seemed to get louder and louder and more annoying. She almost got as many tweets about her as the game did. I'm sure Kim Kardashian will take full credit and I will loathe her even more.
We then head to a second over time, my tweeting of the game slowed down, my breathing slowed down, my heart racing and another piece I'm working on being completely ignored, I was totally drawn in. My kitchen could have been on fire and I would have not cared. The game was that good.
The Warriors didn't seem to have the legs though to compete in the 2nd OT, but they got a quick five point lead and a couple minutes later they were down five and nothing would drop. Then the Spurs went ice cold.
Curry would hit a couple free throws to put the Warriors down three with a minute to play.
Then for some inexplicable reason Ginobili jacks up a 30 footer that barely draws iron and Harrison Barnes grabs the board and starts a break that ends up with the unheralded Kent Bazenmore from Old Dominion University makes a layup with only three seconds left. Warriors up one and the crowd in San Antonio and more importantly that annoying lady were dead silent.
No way the Spurs were going to be able come back from this. Game over. Warriors just stole game one from a Spurs team that couldn't keep up with their youth.
Spurs comes out of the time out, get the ball to Leonard who is fouled by Barnes. Warriors had a foul to give. They had a good idea of what the Spurs would run.
Weirdly Pop substitutes in Tim Duncan for Tony Parker. It's weird because Parker is a better outside shooter, ball handler and free throw shooter.
The move worked because Duncan ended up being the body that set a down pick on Harrison Barnes that allowed Manu Ginobili to set up on the left side arch corner and drilled the go ahead three. Rotation help defense just a few split second off.
Spurs were up 129-127 with just over a second left and it was Curry who was going to take the shot. Even those not watching the game knew Curry was going to take the shot.
Kawhi Leonard didn't let him take the shot. He forced the ball go to Jarrett Jack, who jacked up a 30 footer that was contested by two Spurs and it hit nothing but backboard.
I could breathe again and the young Warriors just experience their first stomach punch game of the post season and dropped their 30th straight game in San Antonio. All of that considering this was probably the best damn NBA playoff game I have ever witnessed.
If these four games couldn't get you back into basketball and I don't know what will. I know some of you all hate the NBA, but you guys are really missing something special in these playoffs. Just put a game on in the background, hang out in a game thread, just chew the fat in there for a while. Get the feel back.
I'm not above bribing either. Just watch a game with me. I'll buy the beer.
"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future."