(Note: Before I start this post, I want to acknowledge something. Scott Brooks, who will probably be named the NBA’s Coach of the Year following this season, looks like he should be coaching prep school hockey instead.)
So, what happens when two very good defensive teams meet?
An offensive masterpiece that even the Showtime Lakers would have been proud of, obviously.
A scorching Boston Celtics team spent the entire game on team fire, but couldn’t find the rim on any last-gasp three-pointers down the stretch, after Jeff Green’s two successive three-balls from the right win gave the Oklahoma City Thunder a little breathing room. Green’s heroics, coupled with Kevin Durant’s 37 points and Russell Westbrook’s 21 points and 10 assists, were enough for the Thunder to avoid defeat despite allowing Boston to shoot 59.5% from the floor. The final score was 109-104.
Durant and Westbrook were simply special. Westbrook proved he belongs in the same class as Rajon Rondo and other All-Star caliber point guards, while Durant showed he may one day operate in a class all by himself. The 6’10 small forward — can you even limit him by giving him a position? — was sensational, filling it up from every angle while destroying whatever Celtic received the unfortunate task of trying to check him. Ray Allen tried first, to no avail. Marquis Daniels was next, but couldn’t do a thing. Paul Pierce switched onto Durant in the fourth quarter, after everybody’s else’s attempts to defend the future scoring champ were fruitless, and came up empty himself. Is it even possible to guard a 6’10″ man who moves that effortlessly and shoots the ball so purely?
Not to sound as if I’m drooling all over Durant, but I’m drooling all over Durant. He has joined Lebron in the category of players you just can’t duplicate. There will never, ever be another Lebron James. He’s too big, too powerful, and too skilled. But there won’t ever be another Kevin Durant, either. No man that size will ever walk walk the earth with the same combination of length, grace, poise and creativity. It’s not happening. Not only should you never compare Durant to any past NBA player, but you should never compare anyone to Durant either. Not now, not ever. He’s that uniquely talented.
And he simply murdered the Celtics. He killed them softly, dropping 37 the quiet way. Not even a Celtics team that shot the lights out could keep up with Durant and his flock of athletic youngsters. Rasheed Wallace shot 7-8 from the floor, and it didn’t matter. Rondo matched Westbrook’s double-double, adding 5 steals and 5 boards to go along with 16 points and 11 dimes, and it didn’t matter. Paul Pierce showed no effects of his two shoulder stingers, and it didn’t matter. The Thunder are for real and, in this extremely well-played game — at least offensively — matched Boston blow for blow before Green delivered the two knockout punches.
As always, punches hurt. If you’re a Celtics fan, seeing such an exciting game was little solace. Watching your team shoot damn near 60% from the floor and compile 30 assists means next to nothing after an L. Two L’s in a row, as a matter of fact. The momentum gained in Houston and Dallas means very little now, as the C’s will take a two-game losing streak into Friday’s game against the Rockets.
If only it weren’t for that damn Jeff Green, I could have been a lot happier right now. As much as tonight’s game kept me on the edge of my seat, it made my heart sink to see Green apply the finishing touches on yet another troublesome Boston home loss.