THE ‘NON-RIVALRY’ RIVALRY

Oklahoma City Thunder now sits two steps above Golden State Warriors in the most recent table of the Western Conference. The relationship between the two teams have a fluctuating nature: sometimes they get pretty heated up in the court; sometimes chill.

Technically, the relationship between the two teams cannot be called a rivalry as they are not equals in current strength and record. But there is so much drama in their clashes that one cannot handle the desire to call it as such. The Thunder-Warriors relationship is probably one of the best non-rivalry rivalries today.

Playoffs Twist

Probably the most iconic game in the tension between Oklahoma City and Golden State happened two years ago. In May 2016, during playoffs, OKC defeated GSW in Game 1. The following game was initially owned by the Warriors, then, after that, Oklahoma won Game 3 and Game 4. Thunder now only has to win one game to flex on Golden State. However, there was a sudden turn of events. GSW became victor in Game 5, then again in Game 6. Oklahoma pushed hard to prevent a GSW win. Unfortunately, Game 7 went to the Warriors, leaving Thunder frustrated and stunned.

Durant transfer from OKC to GSW

Back in July 2016, the memory of Oklahoma City’s defeat to Golden State was still fresh in everyone else’s minds. A month after Oklahoma’s defeat to Golden state, Kevin Durant signed to the Warriors from Thunder with a $54.3 million contract. The transfer was received negatively from the public and NBA sports analysts, comparing it to LeBron’s 2010 off-season move from the Cavaliers to Heat.

Many critics dismissed the move as desperate and self-absorbed on Durant’s part. However, the true point of people’s hate on the move is that Durant did not only left OKC; he also transferred to the team’s top competition.

Steph Curry vs. Westbrook

Stephen Curry is probably the best player that the Golden State has. His sensational 3-point shot, complemented by the calibre of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant, makes the Warriors unstoppable and invincible. But defeating Oklahoma is not an easy task for GSW, thanks to Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

The two point guards are often compared to each other, but sketching a fair comparison seemed like an impossible task. As mentioned, Curry plays with almost equally great players, while Westbrook stands as the best of the team.

Curry has been to more NBA Championships than Westbrook, but the two seems equal in strength based on stats. Curry could score 23.3 points per game, while OKC’s superstar could make 23.0. The GSW MVP averages 4.4 rebounds per game, 6.7 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.2 blocks. Meanwhile, Westbrook brags 6.7 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks in the court.

Oklahoma still hates Durant

One of the things that makes the court hot in matches between Warriors and Thunder is Oklahoma’s contempt for Durant. It seems that people are not over with his move yet. Back in February 2017, when GSW and OKC faced each other again, the Chesapeake Energy Arena got engulfed with the chants ‘cupcake… cupcake’ from Oklahoma fans. The chant was intended to tease Kevin Durant. ‘Cupcake’ was in reference to Kendrick Perkins’ moniker for ‘soft’ Thunder players. Back when Westbrook and Durant were teammates, Perkins would poke fun at his colleagues, calling them ‘cupcakes.’

There is a healthy debate ongoing about the ‘rivalry’ status of the Oklahoma City-Golden State clash, and the dynamic connection between the two made things hard to judge. Will this relationship develop into a real rivalry?

By @FitsEly

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