The most anticipated matchup of the young NBA season is here.
It’s amazing how quickly we got here. It doesn’t feel that long ago that Russ and KD as teammates in Oklahoma City led the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals. Fast forward to today and the most compelling new rivalry in the NBA is upon us.
This one will be about much more than just the game, although we’ll get to that, too. Durant and Westbrook haven’t talked since KD’s decision except for the text Durant sent Russ shortly before the news went public. Ever since, it’s been nothing but fans and the media interpreting veiled shots between the two. Real or not, we find out soon.
A lot could happen tonight and some things in particular that could make this one of the most memorable games, not just of the season, but the history of the league. Here are a few scenarios that might make tonight extra special:
5. Russell Westbrook refuses to acknowledge Kevin Durant before tip-off
This might be the most likely outcome of those pregame routines before the tip. Westbrook has his dance he usually does with Cameron Payne and after that, he’ll normally make the rounds to greet some of the opposing players. What’s going to happen with Durant? Does he dap it out, hug him, barely look his way, or just completely ignore him?
The latter would be best and help fuel this feud on and off the court. Westbrook has been known to completely eliminate those that betray or leave him. He hasn’t spoken to Durant yet. Does he keep it up? Does he whisper “cupcake” in KD’s ear?
And how does Durant react? Will he try and initiate some kind of greeting? Or does he just wait to see what Russ does before making a move? KD said before games he doesn’t shake hands with opponents so odds are there isn’t going to be much of an exchange between the two prior to tip-off.
No matter what happens, this is must-see TV before the game even tips for sure.
4. When Russ switches to defend Durant, he does a good job
The Thunder like to switch on defense. This means Russ defending KD is bound to happen plenty of times.
Westbrook has developed into a lazy defender at times but there’s no way that will be the case tonight. He’s going to be hyper-focused and when that’s the case, he looks like one of the best in the league.
Durant easily has the length to shoot over Russ, but don’t be surprised if Westbrook does a good job when this switch happens. He won’t be letting KD by him and he’s got more than enough quickness to strip Durant on the way up for a shot, or even block his shot.
It might not matter in the ultimate outcome, but odds are Russ does fairly well when he has the chance to check KD.
He has to right?
Green’s been kicking other players for a long time but it came to the forefront during the Western Conference Finals. Green nailed Steven Adams below the belt a few times in that series and he hasn’t stopped letting that leg flail out since.
With everyone inspecting every detail of tonight’s game, and emotions running high, Green is bound to let a kick fly too high once or twice. Maybe it’s not on purpose but it’s going to be hard to give him a free pass considering the history of these two teams.
2. Russ dunks on KD
Westbrook might try to dunk every possession actually. But meeting with KD in the air seems like destiny.
Russ might set a record tonight for the most drives in a game, and he might shoot 50 times. One of those should be a dunk attempt on or near KD. Look for it when the Warriors strut out their new Death Lineup which calls for Durant to protect the rim more.
KD has gotten good at his but Westbrook will be on another level tonight and he might get up to finish a dunk quicker than normal. The Internet might break, Twitter should explode and Vine may decide to not fold after all if it happens.
1. KD starts off slow, but eventually scores over 30 and the Warriors win easily
All of these predictions have favored the Thunder in some way so far, but in the end, it won’t really matter. These Warriors are too good even in this period of figuring each other out, and back on their home floor behind a fired up crowd, there’s going to be no stopping them.
Durant’s going to look to get going early. The Thunder will be ready and likely will defend him as tough as any team does. That will open it up for other Warriors and the easy stuff will come KD’s way later.
It won’t be pretty, but Durant gets his. The Warriors’ brand of basketball wins out and we all get reminded exactly why KD chose them. He wants to be on a team that plays basketball this way, it’s more fun and that mattered so much to him he’s willing to shoulder the burden of being the league’s biggest villain from now on.
Russ walks away remaining the NBA’s new favorite hero. He’s gotten the Thunder out to a 4-0 record putting up ridiculous numbers and he’s only going to keep doing it. This season will be awesome and Russ and KD have a ton to do with it. After tonight, we get to look forward to their next meeting, which won’t be until Jan. 18.