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The Retraction with No Traction

It is extremely difficult to explain the unexplainable. What has transpired in Games 3 through 5 of both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs is the epitome of unexplainable. Less than five days ago I submitted a post to Cosby Sweaters that all but guaranteed a Spurs/Heat matchup in the NBA Finals. My prognostication was no different from what the flock of NBA expert sheep was spewing as the series headed to Boston and Oklahoma City. Well here we are, both Game 5s are in the books, and to say momentum has swung in both series would be the understatement of all understatements. The sheep have taken to the epicenter of NBA dialogue (Twitter) to backtrack on short-sighted comments they made last week. On that note, I will admit that I have become addicted to this platform. I find it extremely entertaining watching the biggest names in sports media racing to hit send on their mobile device just to have the wittiest take on what is happening up to the second in the NBA. However, this fast-paced world of instant “expert” opinions is causing these guys to contradict themselves on a nightly basis while shredding the foundations of intellectual property one tweet at a time. But I can’t get enough of it. It has changed how we watch sports going forward. Unfortunately, I think I have allowed the influence of the sheep to indoctrinate me into a similar way of short-sighted thinking. Because of that, I owe you an apology and for the sake of literary integrity I owe Cosby Sweaters a retraction. So let’s get this moment of vulnerability over with…

The momentum swing in both series has left me feeling guilty and foolish. That guilty feeling contrives from writing off two teams that I knew had absolutely no reason to be written off. The Thunder and Celtics have very few similarities. The Thunder are led by a bunch of young, badass athletes who have only a small sample size of playoff experience but potential that can be best described as skies the limit. The Celtics are a squad captained by a handful of first ballot Hall of Famers who have been told that their best days of playoff ball has come and gone. There’s no denying that these two organizations have two completely different short-term futures beyond this season. Here’s the thing, even down 0-2 in their respective series, their seasons weren’t over and it was as if the Thunder and Celtics were the only ones that felt that way. While both teams have more examples of why they are different as opposed to how they are similar, the similarities are exactly the reason why both teams have seized control of their series. What are the similarities? Both squads have players who are 100% fearless of the moment. When it comes time to see who has the balls to make the big play in crunch time guys like Durant, Pierce, Harden, Rondo, Westbrook, and KG step on the stage, drop their draws, and say to the doubters, “How ‘bout them apples!”
The feeling of foolishness comes from the fact that I already knew this about both teams, but I had my blinders on. I was so mesmerized by the show that the Spurs were putting on in Games 1 and 2. The Heat, while not playing as flawlessly as the Spurs, were simply imposing their South Beach talents on the Celts in the first two games in Miami. The body language of the Celtic vets after Game 2 was as if they knew that this series was not winnable. Or so I thought.

As I said earlier, I wasn’t alone when it came to prematurely placing the Spurs and Heat in the Finals. My circle of friends all shared similar sentiments about what I wrote last week. The aforementioned flock of media sheep were submitting Popovich’s resume for sainthood to the Vatican. Basically every outlet I go to feed my insatiable appetite for the NBA was drinking the Spurs/Heat Finals Kool-Aid before a single Game 3 was played.

Well almost every outlet…

Last week I was at my local Lowe’s store picking up supplies for a DIY project. While loading supplies into my car I couldn’t help but pick up on a conversation by the two Lowe’s employees who were assisting me. They were talking about the NBA playoffs, and within seconds, my uncanny ability to inject myself into any NBA conversation going on within earshot of me took over. Without any concern of whether these two guys cared about what I had to say, I went into a rant rehashing my thoughts from the article I wrote last week. To my surprise, one of the Lowe’s employees countered with a rebuttal to my proclamation. He confidently stated that the Spurs age is going to catch up to them and that the Thunder would take both games at home and close out the Spurs in 6 or 7 games. He also said that he refused to count out the Celtics because it is no secret that the Heat seem to have this problem with pressure situations. At the time I took that conversation with a grain of salt. I mean there is no way this guy at Lowe’s knows more about the NBA than me and Chris Broussard. Now the Thunder and the Celts are one win away from the Finals and have a large helping of crow baking in the oven for all of us to chew on. Well everyone except the NBA guru who needs to quit his day job at Lowe’s.

Okay…So I am willing to admit I was wrong. I hope that you accept my apology, but you better savor this moment. Being able to admit that I am wrong is not something they will be saying about me at my funeral. Now that I have that out of the way I need to make it clear that I think neither series is decided. The Spurs and Heat are still the Spurs and the Heat. If we have learned anything during these conference finals it’s that we can no longer count out the team that appears to be finished. So I am going to refrain from making any other predictions for the remainder of either series. Instead I am just going to sit back and enjoy watching the Spurs fight for their playoff lives, the Heat attempt to salvage what’s left of their dignity, the Thunder younglings turning into cold-hearted assassins, and the Celtics reaching down deep to add another memorable chapter to the lore of their historic franchise.

I will save the predictions for the Finals.

-Drew Stratton