The crystal ball is shattered.
Anyone’s predictable image of an NBA Finals rematch between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat mutated into a tempestuous spin of the roulette wheel.
At least on one half of the postseason bracket.
While the Heat maintain their standing as favorites in the East, the season-ending injury to Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook has turned the West into a pretzel.
The Western Conference is now intertwined with matching levels of talent, and there’s no clear favorite—except for perhaps the San Antonio Spurs.
As witnessed in Oklahoma City's ongoing struggle to close out the Houston Rockets, it’s undeniable that the sheer dominance of the Thunder is now lost.
Some of the lesser postseason bids have already been dropped, but the Rockets and Boston Celtics remain alive.
The Kobe Bryant tweet-fest didn’t last as long as the Los Angeles Lakers’ postseason, but it was far more entertaining than the team’s sweep to the Spurs. The Milwaukee Bucks also served as a first-round sacrifice, being swept to the Heat.
With now just 14 teams left standing in the NBA postseason, and one less superstar, the odds just got a little better for everyone—except the Thunder.