NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 79:
Oklahoma City Thunder (56-21) @ Utah Jazz (41-37)
Do you remember years ago when the Jazz had a chance to be in control of their own destiny. Such that if the Jazz played hard, and won a game -- they'd avoid certain death at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers? Well, we didn't win that game, and we got rolled hard in the playoffs. We did not do enough to avoid certain death (see the purple zone in this post), despite being in control of our own destiny. We're in a similar, but not identical, situation right now. The Oklahoma City Thunder went to the NBA Finals last year. They WON the West. They were a once in a generation team (the Miami Heat) away from winning the title. They're good. They're a different team right now, but they're still gunning for #1. If OKC gets the #1 seed, and we make the playoffs at the #8 seed -- we'll be facing them. And let me tell you, that OKC would be certain death, like the Lakers were back a few years ago.
If we lose tonight, it makes it easier for us to embrace certain death. Because if we lose tonight we help OKC get one game closer to finishing the regular season as the #1 seed. I'd rather face a slower Spurs team that we know very well, and have been good enough to beat, and close enough in our losses, to call it uncertain death. Especially because right now they are without Manu Ginobili. The Spurs may very well defeat us -- but we'll be in those games and be a harder out. The Thunder? It will be certain death because the NBA Playoff Refs will make sure none of our wings can stay with any of theirs. At least the NBA Playoff Refs allow our bigs to bang. We have no chance when the fulcrum of winning and losing is wing defense. (Post defense? Yes we do.)
IF we win, we help the Spurs, and put us not just ONE step closer to avoiding certain death, but also ONE step closer to making the playoffs. Period.
It's not the same situation as it was years ago, but it's still an important situation that we're in right now. If we win, and we can win, then it helps us in two ways. If we lose, then even if we do make the playoffs, we'll be facing a team that will make us look worse than we are. It will be really bad. It will be playing the Lakers with 2 injured starters bad. It would be certain death.
Right now we still can control our destiny. With a win tonight, unlikely as it may seem, we can avoid certain death.
It's going to be a tough game, primarily because OKC is a better team than we are. They have stars like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and tons of talent waiting to do their thing on the court, and play their role well like Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Martin, Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha, and so on. They are a good team. They have good players. And they're also motivated to avenge their public loss at home to the New York Knicks in their last game. Furthermore, they're gunning for the #1 spot in the Western Conference standings.
All of that in impressive.
But they're playing in our gym tonight. And we have something to play for too. We're playing to avoid certain death. And our fans are going to come out and support the team, with our fan-organized "Whiteout". If you're going wear white.
Increase sales of bleach.