Oklahoma City might not have the best team in the NBA. That’s becoming more and more clear as this San Antonio series takes seed. But can we all agree that OKC has the most entertaining team in the NBA? Maybe the most entertaining team in sports.
Of course, some define entertaining as strictly winning. OK. I’m not going to argue. I don’t agree at all, but if you want to embrace that take-your-ball-and-go-home argument, fine. But I define entertaining as fun and dramatic to watch. Going to the arena never knowing what you’ll get.
In the playoffs and the regular season, the Thunder provides both the wow factor and the what? factor. The Thunder matches the excitement and talent level of any team — Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, they all solicit oohs and aahs throughout most any game.
Now, not everything about the Thunder is high entertainment. When the ball stops moving and the Thunder offense starts playing in quicksand, well, that’s not nearly as entertaining as the Spurs firing the ball around the hardwood. But the Spurs don’t always fire the ball around the hardwood — it’s possible that Tony Parker takes more dribbles in a game than does Russell Westbrook; in fact, I’m quite sure of it — and the Thunder offense doesn’t always bog down.
But here’s why the Thunder is the most entertaining team perhaps in all of sports. The games they play. They have a very difficult time finding their way to a blowout, good or bad.
Look at the playoffs. The Thunder played an obviously-overmatched Mavericks team. The Thunder swept four games. It won Game 1 99-98 on Durant’s buzzer-beater, Game 2 102-99 when Jason Terry missed two 3-pointers in the final five seconds and Game 4 103-97 with a comeback from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder played the proud but aging Lakers in the second round and won in five games. The Thunder won Game 2 77-75, winning Game 2 thanks to Durant’s running one-hander with86 18.6 seconds left in the game. The Thunder lost Game 3 99-96 and Durant missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds. The Thunder won Game 4 103-100 with another 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter.
Even the two games against the Spurs have been high on the entertaining scale. The Thunder led by nine points in the fourth quarter of Game 1, the Spurs rallied to take a 10-point lead with 1:57 left and the Thunder still clawed back within three by game’s end. Game 2 was a blowout — the Spurs led by 22 in the third quarter — and still the Thunder climbed back within six points with 51/2 minutes left. And it was only 115-107 Spurs with 1:50 left.
And those games are a microcosm of the Thunder season. The Thunder had great finishes and vaunted comebacks and exasperating close calls against teams it should have been blown away and even some defeats against the likes of Cleveland and Sacramento.
You never known what you’re going to get. I think that’s a product of amazing talent and youth.