Hard not to after watching the Thunder undo the Clippers in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals, winning 118-112.
Maybe it was in the back of your mind that Oklahoma City was good enough to win a championship if Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook played hero, but after watching the two dueling superstars dominate the Clippers, the thought really does have some legit weight to it.
Because when the Thunder play like they did, beating a Los Angeles team at its place when that same Los Angeles team had been unbeaten in 35 games at home leading heading into the fourth quarter, championship thoughts start making sense.
Holding some merit.
The Thunder won because Durant had 36 points and Westbrook nearly chased down another triple-double, finishing with 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. But the Thunder ascended beyond because Serge Ibaka was near perfect (9-of-10 shooting, 20 points), Reggie Jackson (14 points) was better than good and Caron Butler (14 points) was a complement to it all. Steven Adams even had nine rebounds.
That kind of performance was good enough to give the Thunder a 2-1 series lead and good enough to turn heads because they were able to beat a Clipper team that played well.
Blake Griffin had his best game of the series, going for 34 points and eight rebounds. Chris Paul had 21 points, 16 assists and didn’t turn it over once. Three other players scored in double figures and the the team shot 45 percent while the Thunder’s Ibaka and Sefolosha got into foul trouble.
But Durant and Westbrook were so good (59 combined points, 19 combined assists, four combined turnovers) and so consistent, even if no one else in Thunder blue was noteworthy, it might have been enough to beat the Clippers.
Instead, and make it two games in a row now, OKC has gotten more than just greatness from its stars. It’s gotten greatness from all precincts.
That’s why this team is good enough to be trophy worthy.
The Thunder came in 0-4 all time in Game 3s when tied at 1-1. The Clippers hadn’t lost at home. OKC overcame both of those stats, overcame Griffin and Paul and foul trouble.
Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said his team has been able to beat OKC when Durant and Westbrook play well, but not when others chip in. Now, two games in a row, that’s been the case for the Thunder.
Simply put, the Thunder are really good with Durant and Westbrook.