Tonight was one of those games.
One of those games where you sweat while watching, even when you aren’t rooting for anyone. One of those games that you sit on the couch after watching, not knowing what to do with yourself because you’re in shock. One of those games you’ll tell your grandkids about in 50 years, marveling at the fact that you sat and watched it live because it was just that good.
The Warriors battled and then they battled some more until the Thunder finally relented. Faced with elimination—and the prospect of going next to the 2007 Patriots in history as the Greatest Team that Wasn’t—the Warriors dug deep and silenced a raucous Oklahoma City crowd that was so loud it hurt your ears through the television.
First it was a barrage of Klay Thompson 3s, 11 to be exact—a playoff record—including two or three from Curry’s range of 30 feet or more. Those kept Golden State in the game when the Thunder tried to step on their necks but it was Andre Iguodala’s relentless defense on both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that the Warriors owe this victory to as much as anything. It was Iguodala’s steal off Russell Westbrook that set up Thompson’s 25-footer in transition that put the Warriors ahead for good just as it was Andre Iguodala’s steal off Kevin Durant that set up a Curry 26-footer that tied the game at 99 and silenced the deafening Thunder crowd.
Normally, Russell Westbrook wills himself to the rim on those drives so relentless it’s nearly impossible to describe but tonight, Westbrook was comparatively quiet as was his teammate, Kevin Durant. Late in the game, the Thunder let the pressure get to them, falling back into their isolation-heavy offense that defined their frustrating crunch-time offense during the regular season, settling for midrange jumpers and turning the ball over with consistency. The champs also went back to their regular season roots, going to the Death Lineup that just two games ago had been killed and reaping the rewards.
Now we go back to Oracle Arena and a Game 7 that promises to be every bit as good as its predecessor. The only difference: the pressure is on the Thunder.
All stats are from basketball-reference.com or NBA.com unless otherwise noted