For months, NBA analysts and fans alike had been preparing themselves for a thrilling postseason. The Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and the Warriors is expected to go down as an all-time great. After commentators spent hours on TV analyzing the matchup and looking ahead at a finals series that would be a finals rematch for Lebron James with either team. The only problem is that somebody forgot to send the memo to the Toronto Raptors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. As of the writing of this article, the Raptors have won two games in a row against the Cavaliers to tie that series at 2-2; the Warriors are on the brink of elimination, trailing the Thunder 3-1, and have lost two games in a row for the first time all season.
While it is not a surprise that the Raptors are in the Eastern Conference Finals, the fact that this is a close series and one that now looks like the Raptors can win it. The Raptors came into the playoffs as the two-seed in the Eastern Conference, and everything looked to be according to most predictions through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors dropped the first two games in blowouts. Kyle Lowry looked lost and it seemed that no matter what they did, they were not going to stop the Cavaliers. Many were already talking about the Cavaliers in the finals and some were even debating whether or not the Cavaliers would lose a game. In Game Three, however, the Raptors were able to put the brakes on the Cavaliers’ offense, holding them to only 84 points. The real surprise came in game four, however, when the Raptors again held the Cavaliers to under 100 points and tied up the series. Now the Cavaliers are looking at a must win Game Five at home, and the Raptors do not look like they will go down easily.
Meanwhile, the Thunder has taken the league by storm throughout the playoffs. When they met the Spurs in Game One of the Western Semi-finals, they were so easily dominated that several writers were already guessing which team Kevin Durant would leave them for. But Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant refused to go down, winning the next two games and ultimately winning the series 4-2. They surprised the league again when they won Game One against the Warriors in Oakland. While the Warriors came back and took the second game, the Thunder have now won two in a row in dominating fashion with scores of 133-105 and 118-94. While Westbrook and Durant have always played with intensity, they definitely seem to have a chip on their shoulder for being overlooked by the rest of the league.
Both Conference Finals series are up for grabs and the best regular season team in NBA history are facing elimination, once again reminding us to never make assumptions in the NBA playoffs.