Through four games in each series, referees, fines, and unexpected groin strikes have taken the 2016 NBA Playoffs by the reins in a way we NBA fans could’ve never predicted in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
As history might’ve wished, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors were set to meet in the NBA finals in 2016 for a rematch of epic proportions, with each team maintaining potent and healthy rosters.
However, the underdogs–who, by the numbers, don’t necessarily fit that title–had something to say about that. No news in the 2016 NBA Playoffs has been more exciting than the idea that a series may boil down to who’s suspended instead of who decides to step up.
For example, the recent fiasco between Draymond Green and Steven Adams with Russell Westbrook‘s unprecedented involvement, to add a bit of spice to the beef, was the perfect amount of drama to stimulate viewers who expected an otherwise boring rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the West.
Now Oklahoma City native Skip Bayless is eating his words in the midst of the sorrowful defeat of his beloved San Antonio Spurs; and now that OKC team is the very team that is giving Golden State its toughest test of the year.
After a repugnant drought of shooting that dragged out the first two rounds of the playoffs, , the Toronto Raptors tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan has put the formerly undefeated Cavaliers on edge, with some trademark finger wagging from a Congo native who’s name isn’t Dikembe Mutombo. In fact, Bismack Biyombo was born 974 miles from his finger wagging predecessor, about a 2 hour plane ride away and on the opposite side of the Democratic Republic in Lubumbashi.
It seems, however, that although he’s down 5 inches from the great shot-blocker who coined the wagging index finger, Biyombo’s recent dominance backs a budding idea that the Congo is home to some fierce NBA shot blocking prospects.
In the Western Conference, Serge Ibaka, another Congo native, has elevated his defensive presence against Golden State back to the level at which he cornerstoned his career. Incidentally, he was born in Brazzaville, Congo, not far from Mutombo’s home of Kinshasha.
The real agent of Golden State’s confusion in this Western Conference series, aside from Ibaka, is the stellar play of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, whom Steven A. Smith still stands by as some of the best players in the league, despite their biting attitudes toward media members. With an imposing 3-1 lead on Golden State, this duo looks poised to retry their luck at a Larry O’Brien Trophy.
All of this information, arbitrary as some of it may seem, falls back on the idea that some unexpected heroes and amazing performances have arisen here in 2016. Whether or not the perennial finals matchup of Golden State vs. Cleveland returns to that stage, we owe some gratitude to Oklahoma City and Toronto.
Thank you, “underdog” teams, for giving us continued excitement in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Win or lose, you guys showed us just how fun the NBA can be to watch, and how awe-inspiring great performances can turn predictions upside-down.