So far, the Oklahoma City Thunder have had the two best players in this series. The Thunder are playing harder, they are playing with more fire, they are bigger, they are faster. After last night's shellacking in Oklahoma City, most sane people feel that the series will be over either tomorrow, or Saturday, when the teams return to Chesapeake Energy Arena.
But, BUT...The Warriors are still alive. For now. It is strange to think of a 73 win team feeling like an underdog, but we are there. If you'd been in a coma since mid-October, suddenly woke up and watched Game 4 before checking on either team's records, you would have watched that game and walked away (hoping you are walking, I'm not sure, there's some strange holes in this scenario) feeling sorry for the Warriors. "Man," you might say, "Charles Barkley was right." Then, you'd reintegrate into the world, have to catch up on all the newest Game of Thrones episodes, casually look up the NBA season and be dumbfounded to learn that the Warriors set the mark for most wins in a season.
Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson thrive as underdogs. All their careers, they've had to battle and flail against preconceptions about their games. Curry is too small. Ditto for Draymond. Klay will only ever be a shooter. Shaun Livingston's knee would never be the same.
Now, for the first time in the Steve Kerr era, their backs are 100% against the wall. One more lost game against this terrifying Thunder team, and they're done. Done-zo. Pack yr bags, get on the plane, and flee the country for a few months until things calm down.
But Game 5 is in Oakland. The last time these two teams played in Oakland, the Warriors won by 27 points. Sure, that game feels like a lifetime ago, and sure, nothing the Warriors have accomplished in the interim seven days has inspired a single ounce of confidence, but the fact remains Game 5 is in Oakland.
It will be bumping. It will be rocking. For God's sake, if Steph goes into the stands, I believe people will catch him. Klay Thompson -- he of the 19 point third quarter, the one bright spot in a dark Game 4 chasm of self-doubt -- will get hot. Steph's knee will somehow miraculously heal with the power of belief.
Remember that scene in Hook? Where Peter Pan remembers how to fly by holding onto his happy thought?
That's pretty much where I'm at right now. The Warriors are going to remember that once upon a time, they won 73 regular season games. They are going to find a hole in the Thunder defense. Steph is finally going to shake off the rust and the malaise and return to form. Draymond will stop kicking dudes. Draymond will not only stop kicking dudes, but he will have a game where he ends on the plus side of the plus/minus pendulum. Andre Iguodala will play lock down defense. Shaun Livingston will deftly handle the second unit. And then, after remembering how to fly, and after cruising through Games 5, 6, and the first half of Game 7 (much as Peter glides through the air in the above clip, RIP Robin Williams, GOAT), Durant and Westbrook will pledge their allegiance to the "true Pan," will lay down their swords, and swear fealty.
These are my happy thoughts.
It's gonna happen! All we need to do is believe! Let's do it all together, now, "I can fly, I can fly, I can---"
I lost it.
OH NO! I'm falling!
There's the ground! The harsh reality of Game 5! It's coming so fast! Argh! Quick, remember those happy thoughts, remember those happy---
/splats on ground
/Lost Boys (aka, dirty children horde of NBA fans) follow Rufio (Thunder) into the Finals against Captain Hook (LeBron James)
/all is lost