Throughout the entire NBA season, the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs established themselves as the two top teams in the league, each posting historic records at 73-9 and 67-15, respectively. Most believed going into the playoffs that the two teams would face off in the Western Conference Finals, and the winner of that series would go on to inevitably win the NBA Finals.
However, the Oklahoma City Thunder foiled everyone’s plans as they took down the Spurs in six games, and are currently tied at a game a piece in the conference final. Now, the question went from “Who would win a conference final between the Warriors and Spurs?” to “Would a Warriors-Spurs final have been better?”
On paper, looking at regular season stats, the answer is yes. Plain and simple. I didn’t watch much of the NBA season, other than the occasional Warriors game where they either lost or pulled something off in the fourth quarter to keep their record alive. Either way, I was ready to get back into the sport if the Warriors and Spurs were going to face off in the Western Conference Finals. It would’ve been the equivalent of the NBA Finals, and the ratings would’ve been through the roof.
The Warriors-Spurs matchup had just about every storyline that any media outlet would be able to cover. Between the talent levels of the two teams, the last hurrah for San Antonio players like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the rise of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge to replace these two Spurs legends, and everything in between, this series had everything. Almost the entire basketball world wanted to see it, except for the Thunder.
The Thunder are still a worthy opponent capable of dethroning the almost-godly Warriors, but some say the matchups that would have happened in the Warriors-Spurs series would’ve been slightly more intriguing to watch. With Steph Curry paired against Tony Parker, Draymond Green on LaMarcus Aldridge, Klay Thompson on Manu Ginobli or Danny Green, and Tim Duncan somewhere in-between, there would be action to watch everywhere.
However, the Thunder may actually have a better, more realistic chance to combat Golden State’s all-star roster than San Antonio, mainly because of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In the Warriors-Thunder series, there is a matchup that is sure to be an instant classic at point guard between Curry and Westbrook, while Durant squares off with options like Harrison Barnes or Andre Igoudala, or the ability to rotate to power forward and balance out with Green. They proved in Game 1 of the series that they are able to slow down the Warriors’ high-powered offense, and I personally think they have the ability to challenge Golden State more than the Spurs ever could.
Originally, I thought the Warriors-Spurs would be the only thing to keep me interested in this year’s playoffs, but now I feel more reinvigorated with this Thunder option. The underdog story is too appealing in this scenario, and this whole series has a huge impact on the upcoming free agency period this summer, with Durant possibly looking for another home if Oklahoma City doesn’t meet his expectations. Add in the fact that we could be witnessing the final time the Durant-Westbrook duo plays together, and I wouldn’t want to watch anything else. I would much rather watch the Warriors battle it out with a tough team like the Thunder and possibly lose, than watch the Warriors beat the Spurs in a tight series.