"Young teams can’t win, you need veteran experience come playoff time." - Me circa 2014.
Coming off the six game loss to Duncan and the Spurs in the 2014 playoffs, I prayed late at night to a God I didn't believe in for a ring chasing veteran (Pau Gasol) to join the Thunder and help us eradicate that black and white team for good. Those colors are not an accident, they probably don’t have color TV in the locker room.
Luckily, my prayers never came true. Instead I am now gleefully watching rookie head coaches trust their young guys to run the system and execute defensively. That's what the three remaining teams in the playoffs have taught me. Even the Raptors.
This years conference finals starred some of the most inexperienced players ever. Irving, Love, Lowry, Derozan, Roberson, Adams, Klay, Draymond. Hell, this series is one of the best ever and it features the three best players under 30.
WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?
Is it just fleeting flukes? Or are we watching the league at its apex? Take a look at usage ratings in the conference finals. LeBron is the only player above 30 topping those charts and that's just because he's a robot.
Every other successful team is moving away from xenophobia and embracing open mindedness. Billy the Kid might still fail us yet, but look at what he has done against Pop and Kerr in just a month's time. He adjusted properly, turning Roberson into a paint presence and Durant into Rudy Gobert. All while never coaching an NBA playoffs before in his life.
And what do Waiters, Roberson, and Adams know about winning in the conference finals? They haven't been here before… but Donovan gave them the minutes they needed to shine and by golly did they take up the challenge. Even Morrow, the "old guy" on the team, is getting in on the party:
Does it look like they care that the Warriors started out 24-0? Do they seem phased to the point of choking in the biggest playoff game of their lives? Not a f***ing chance. It’s hard to lose a series once you know you can win by just playing your heart out.
That’s all I’m asking this Thunder team to do - keep playing hard and you won’t be one of nine horrible collapses in NBA history but the very reason for the GREATEST COLLAPSE IN ANY SPORT EVER.
The 18-1 Patriots don’t even compare to this. We loved this team and pretended Curry was Jordan reincarnated. But Jordan didn’t get to use the injury excuse when he lost playoff games. He took his 70 win team and played tough, gritty defense you can see in every Thunder soldier today. This isn’t an article as much as it is a fan begging the team of his dreams (and man of his dreams) to eschew complacency. Do not let up. Step on their throats tonight.
WE DO NEED SOME STINKING CONFIDENCE…
But my confidence is enough for all of us. I’m so confident in the Thunder winning game 6 and the series is that I’ve already previewed the Finals. Not to spoil it, but our numbers suggest LeBron and Durant’s turnovers might determine the fate of each game. And the whole series.
The Cavs, meanwhile, will have to bend their entire defense to 100 Russell Westbrook drives per game with Kyrie Irving as the point defender. Now you see why I’m so confident? Join me, and believe in this team as it makes the most amazing title run of all time.