Outside of a kick to the groin -- intentional or not -- there was a basketball game Sunday in Oklahoma City.
It wasn't so much a game as it was an ugly, no-holds-barred beatdown.
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It was the kind of lopsided victory from which teams don't usually come back. It's the kind of knockdown that keeps teams on the mat. To double-down on the boxing metaphors, the Thunder's Game 3 win was a punishing haymaker straight to the jaw.
The Warriors were floored Sunday -- there's no questioning that, in a 28-point loss where the margin was as large as 41 in the second half -- and it's put them in a must-win scenario ahead of Game 4. But it's a bad idea to presume the Western Conference Finals is over and that the Thunder will be heading to the NBA Finals.
Write them off if you want, but remember: the Warriors are historically good, and a single game is a pretty small sample size.
And for all of the narrative out there, Sunday's Game 3 win for the Thunder was just that, a Game 3 win. Impressive as it was, it only counts as one.
Oklahoma City has always been a nightmare matchup for the Warriors, and Sunday's victory was an extreme example of that. The Warriors were able to limit either Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant in the first two games of the series, but both went off Sunday. The Thunder, behind their two superstars, played a near perfect game while the Warriors played the worst game of their record-breaking season.
The Thunder entered Game 3 knowing that they needed to throw a second kind of smoke after a Game 2 blowout loss in Oakland. They did just that -- OKC's superstars were transcendent, and every other player in a white jersey beat their counterpart in blue.
The Thunder also showed the Warriors a smaller look with Serge Ibaka playing center Sunday. That "smallball" look (Ibaka and Durant are both closer to 7 feet than their listed heights) played a team-high 12 minutes and had an astounding plus-98 net rating (145 offensive points per 100 possessions, 47 points allowed per 100 possessions.)
But now OKC's best effort is on tape, and the Warriors, for as good as they were in Game 2, haven't put together their best game yet in this series.
The Warriors haven't lost back-to-back games this season for a reason. They don't often find themselves in tough, back-against-the-wall scenarios, but over the last two years, not only have they responded to those situations with wins, they've responded with elite performances that irrevocably changed the timbre of those series.
Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies took a 2-1 lead over Golden State in the Western Conference Semifinals -- the Warriors' shots weren't falling and the Griz were dominating in the post. The Warriors responded by putting center Andrew Bogut on poor-shooting defensive stalwart Tony Allen. The defensive switch took Allen out of the contest, the Warriors shots concurrently fell, and Golden State won the next three games with ease.
In the 2015 NBA Finals, LeBron James controlled the pace and gave Cleveland an emphatic 2-1 lead. The Warriors responded by speeding up the plodding Cavs by benching Bogut and starting forward Andre Iguodala in his place. Green moved to center and the Warriors ran the Cavs off the floor the next three games to win the title.
To be fair, this Thunder team is by far the best team the Warriors have played in the past two years. One adjustment isn't going to be enough for the Warriors to crack their opponents -- not with Durant and Westbrook's omnipresent threat.
But no team responds as well to poor play as well as the Warriors, and there's little reason to think their struggles are anything systematic.
Green's struggles weren't tied to anything Oklahoma City did Sunday -- they were self-inflicted wounds. Bet on him to bounce back. (The NBA won't be daft enough to suspend him for his contact with Steven Adams' sensitive regions in Game 3, because you don't suspend an All-Star for a critical playoff game if there's plausible deniability; it's bad business.)
The Warriors' transition defense was lazy and a step behind all Game 3 -- you can bet that won't happen in a must-win Game 4.
The Thunder won't shoot 60 percent with an assist percentage of less than 50 as they did in the first three quarters of Game 3 again, either.
Do you really want to bet on Dion Waiters being anything close to a plus-32 the rest of the series? Not in a single game, like he was Sunday, I'm talking cumulatively.
And the Warriors will have a plan to combat OKC's "smallball" lineup going forward. Unless the Thunder have another kind of smoke to throw -- I certainly don't see it -- the Warriors have them cataloged.
Recency bias might tell us that the Thunder are a superior team, that they're better than the greatest regular-season team of all time, but the opposite sentiment was present after Game 2, when the Warriors bounced back from a surprising Game 1 loss to blow out OKC.
Seeing how those three games have gone down -- two blowouts and a can't-quite-explain-how win -- has created some interesting narrative, but little else. Momentum is a vastly overrated factor.
On the macro, this series hasn't played out in any shocking manner. While it wasn't presumed the Thunder would lead 2-1 after three games, no reasonable basketball fan could be surprised at that outcome.
The Thunder could well win this series -- they're in control of it now -- but ultimately, Oklahoma City has already given the Warriors their best shot.
It's going to take more than that to knock out this Golden State team.