This season wasn’t going to end any other way for the Thunder. A team so dependent on the brilliance of one individual never had a chance in today’s NBA. The archaic formula could work in the regular season against other flawed teams and in an environment where the opponents are constantly changing.
But faced against a real Houston Rockets team in the playoffs, with an equally brilliant star and a good supporting cast, there was no other conclusion than a quick 4-1 exit.
We’ve seen varieties of this situation before, but never to this extreme. This severe reliance on one man was the result of losing Kevin Durant, which destroyed a team structure built to run on the talents of Durant and Russell Westbrook. The duo had been just one game away from beating the 73-9 Warriors and going to the NBA Finals.
With Durant in the Bay Area, the Thunder had to decide whether to rebuild or fight in vain. Westbrook, always seeing the impossible as a test rather than a dead end, could only choose one path. He was going to fight, and he’d bring his teammates as far as he could all by himself.
In the mid-2000s, the Clippers were struck ever harder with injuries. Shaun Livingston suffered one of the most infamous and grotesque injuries in basketball when he snapped his left leg Baseball Jerseys Cheap in half. And when Elton Brand ruptured his Achilles only eight games into the 2007-08 season, he was never the same player.
As a franchise, the Clippers have never even been to a conference finals, and I’m sure fans can point out another dozen terrible moments of bad luck that has befallen them over the years to prevent that from happening. With Griffin’s injury on Friday, we’re left wondering if this same group of players — who seemed to give the Clippers the best chance of making it there — will even be around next season.