On Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder played for the fourth and final time in the regular season. The first time Kevin Durant made his return to Chesapeake Arena last month, fans had welcomed him back with cupcake signs and chants. They mocked him, reminding him of his abandonment to join the Warriors in the off-season. And of course, everyone from Durant’s teammates to his mother chimed in.
But with Kevin Durant sitting out injured this time, there was no such tension… until the second quarter, that is.
A scuffle between Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and a few other players showed exactly why we need these two teams to have a series in the Playoffs again. Because when things get chippy, they get interesting.
A Chippy Match-Up
Toward the end of the second quarter, with the Golden State Warriors up by 17, Andre Iguodala and Taj Gibson lined up for a jump ball. But then Stephen Curry and Semaj Christon started pushing each other a little too hard to get into position near the top of the key. Russell Westbrook joined in, shoving Curry’s arm. That of course, ignited the powder keg. Soon the other players were joining in, and it looked like all ten players on the court where either shoving or pulling.
After a brief review, technical fouls were handed out to Curry, Westbrook, Christon, and Draymond Green – who had somehow decided to be pushier than the rest of the players coming in to help.
After the scuffle, Stephen Curry drained a cold-blooded 3 in the ensuing play, just as time expired. That put the Warriors up by 20, and Curry sprinted to the locker room right after. The Golden State Warriors would not relinquish that lead anymore, whipping the Thunder for the fourth time this season.
A Series Would Be Fireworks
Despite the one-sidedness, a playoff series between these two would sell tickets like hotcakes. It’s not so much a “rivalry” as it is a simple series of grudge matches. These two don’t like each other.
Could it happen?
Currently, the Golden State Warriors are in 1st place in the Western Conference. The OKC Thunder are 6th. And with only about 11 games left to go for either team, those standings may not change anymore.
But should the Spurs somehow overtake the Warriors, dropping them to 2nd? And if the Grizzlies overtake the Thunder to push them to 7th? We could have a first round brawl on our hands.
Otherwise, OKC will have to fight through the Rockets and Spurs to meet Golden State in the Western Conference Finals. That would make for some fine storytelling, especially because of how the Warriors overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat OKC in the WCF last year.