2016 West Finals Hangover (Game 7): Warriors Complete Comeback, Return To Finals

This is the Hangover. We get basketball-wasted all the time. Yes, we recap the NBA every night in our own way.

(PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images.)

#3 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 88 @ #1 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 96
WEST Finals – Game 7 – WARRIORS WIN series, 4-3

What a game this was.

Steve Kerr went to his trump card from the Finals last year and started Andre Iguodala (this time around, Harrison Barnes sat down). Iguodala started the second half of Game 6 and proved to be a big difference at the end of that game with his defense.

But the Thunder got off to a great start as Kevin Durant made some shots early. The Splash Brothers struggled early; Klay Thompson missed his first seven shots. OKC went up by many as 13 points in the second quarter.

Klay started hitting shots; he made four straight threes. But the Thunder withstood the Warrior rallies in the first half even though Stephen Curry made a high-banking lay-up to beat the buzzer. OKC was up by six.

Then the Warriors did what they had been doing all season; they drained all their shots from the outside. A Curry three gave the Dubs the lead. Then the bench provided a lift; Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, and Anderson Varejao scored 12 straight for the team. The Warriors were up by 13 at that point.

Klay and Draymond Green countered Russell Westbrook and Durant’s threes with behind-the-arc shots of their own. Durant then made seven straight points of his own to cut the deficit down to four. But Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a three-pointer with 1:17 left. That essentially sealed the deal. Curry made another three later to make sure that the Thunder wouldn’t get out of the grave. The Warriors completed the comeback from being down 3-1 for a return trip to the Finals.

The game was so exciting and nerve-wracking that it felt like facing Sephiroth for the first time in Final Fantasy VII. The Thunder did everything they could; maybe going small to match the Warriors (which was great for them halfway through the series) wasn’t such a great idea at the final game as the Warriors had found their groove. But OKC couldn’t go against the Warriors’ big weapon: the three-pointer. The Dubs went 17/37 (.459) while the Thunder shot 7/27 (.259). It’s like death and taxes for the Warriors when it comes to perimeter shooting. That goes against basically every basketball logic we knew about in the past.

People like to say that the Thunder choked. But I don’t like saying that. We knew that if there was a team that can come back from being down 3-1, it would be the 73-9 Warriors. This team lost only NINE games in the regular season. They are the best at responding back after a loss. After OKC handed them their first two-game losing streak of the season, G. State came back with THREE WINS. That’s how the Warriors have been all season and, seriously, nobody was surprised that they came back.

Also, a lot of individuals are so obsessed with breaking up the Oklahoma City Thunder. They say Durant needs to go to a major market. Or Westbrook needs his own team so he can prosper. The Thunder are so CLOSE and have been several times. Why not keep giving it a shot? Look at the Mavericks in 2011; they finally broke through with what some may consider a surprising title win that season. But sometimes, breaks happen. An injury to a top star can happen (Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, etc.) at any given moment.

Not everyone succeeds, obviously (turn-of-the-century Blazers, late 90s Jazz), but if you want to give yourself the best chance to succeed at a title, why start over at another team when you’re practically knocking on the door like the Thunder?

Still, what a surprising and excellent playoff run by the Thunder when we were practically crowning the Warriors and the Spurs. It reminded me of the Jazz making THEIR excellent playoff run in 1996 when they lost to the Seattle SuperSonics by four in Game 7. The Jazz would make two straight Finals, only to lose to the Bulls.

But now, we’re getting an NBA Finals rematch. AND STILL…

BEHIND THE LINES
Stephen Curry (GS): 36 pts, 5 rebs, 8 assts.
Klay Thompson (GS): 21 pts, 5 rebs.
Kevin Durant (OKC): 27 pts, 7 rebs.
Russell Westbrook (OKC): 19 pts, 7 rebs, 13 rebs.

WATCH THIS PLAY

This fastbreak dunk by Shaun Livingston was a backbreaker. It got the crowd into it and it gave the Warriors a five-point cushion. The Warriors led the rest of the way.

(VIDEO CREDIT: NBA.)

Cavs and Warriors starts on Thursday. This time around, the Cavaliers are in full strength. This will NOT be a cakewalk.


Follow Rey-Rey on Twitter at @TheNoLookPass for all tweets about the NBA and terrible pop music. Also, check out his podcast, Rey-Rey Is Fundamental.

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