Roundtable: Memorable Moments of the 2015-16 NBA Season
Romana Bholat – In a season where the Golden State Warriors have been reaching milestones, setting historic records, and making headlines on a nightly basis, it was more than refreshing to see their mortality exposed at the hand s of the gritty Boston Celtics.
As OTG’s resident die-hard Celtic fan, I’m more than happy to choose my team breaking the Warrior’s 54-game home winning streak as my favorite moment of the year. Now this may seem like an obligated and biased choice, but any fan can agree with me that this streak-snapping game was pretty incredible.
The Warriors regular season home winning streak spanned back to January of the previous season and seemed virtually impossible to break. But the Celtics showed up and showed out in the Bay Area and did what every other team had failed to do up until that point.
The C’s had a balanced scoring attack, led by Isaiah Thomas’ 22 points and six assists. Stephen Curry added 29 points of his own, but also contributed nine costly turnovers due to that tenacious Celtic defense.
Coming off the tail end of a tough back-to-back and without the services of wingman Jae Crowder, the Celtics emerged victorious and put their stake in the way of the Warriors achieving record-breaking history. Needless to say, Oracle Arena was very quiet when the Celtics walked off with a 109-106 W.
The visiting locker room, on the other hand, was far from quiet. Thanks to an Instagram video posted by Evan Turner, we got an inside look at exactly how lit the Celtics were upon overcoming the dominant Warriors. The epic game was perfectly capped off by a variety of dance moves, ranging from Isaiah Thomas’ dab, to Kelly Olynyk’s…um…actually I’m not sure what the seven-footer was attempting to do, but it was celebratory, to say the least.
Fans around the league came together to cheer on the Celtics and rejoice in seeing the champs dethroned, even if it was only one regular season game. To me, this felt like the first time the Warriors were seen as the “bad guys” who needed to be handed an L. It became almost impossible to root against the undeniable heart and grit of the Celtics as the game progressed.
This game was the moment of the year because it felt bigger than it was; it had the makings of an intense finals game that came down to the wire. The raucous crowd, the fierce competition, and the absolute social media circus that follows any major event added to this momentous regular season matchup. And I can’t deny that it was pretty satisfying to see the look of defeat on the faces of the smug defending champs. *Insert crying Jordan meme*
Chris Stewart – By January 23rd 2016 the Phoenix Suns season had fallen apart. It was at a very low point. The team was on a six game losing streak, and playing the Atlanta Hawks at home. But for one night, Suns guard Archie Goodwin would give the local fans something to cheer about. Goodwin is a very young player, and a sort of underdog in Phoenix; which solidified this play as my favorite moment of the regular season.
The score was tied 95-95 after Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore hit a huge shot with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. The Suns would call a timeout after Bazemore missed a go-ahead free throw attempt. "The play was originally drawn up for Alex (Len) to come off and shoot the 3, but I wasn't going to let him do it. I was going to shoot it all the time," Goodwin said. "I was looking at the play like, “Yeah right, I am shooting this.” Goodwin led the Suns with 24 points, and Tyson Chandler tied a franchise record with 27 rebounds. "It's valuable experience for these guys to be in a game like that and win," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Phil Guay – Around 11 months ago, it was looking like the almost 20 year run that the San Antonio Spurs had, was over. After two long playoff campaigns, the Spurs were eliminated in the opening round by a Los Angeles Clippers team which featured younger and bouncier stars in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Longtime studs Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were all in massive decline and whispers of retirement flooded NBA media outlets. The magic they had turning obscure foreign born players and second round casts off into effective role players had run out. Besides star forward Kawhi Leonard, the team had little upside and the future for title hopes in San Antonio looked bleak.
San Antonio entered the summer of 2015 Free Agency period with a good deal of cap space and some rumors of ambition to make a big deal, but little was expected from the league’s least flashy franchise. This all changed with the team emerging as a suitor and eventual front runner to sign star big man LaMarcus Aldridge. When the Spurs succeeded in inking the Texas native they inherited a player whose drive was questioned in his last years for a middling Portland squad.
All concerns were set aside as soon as the season tipped off as ace coach Gregg Popovich wove his new weapon seamlessly into the rotation. To the ire of fantasy geeks his numbers dropped slightly, but his overall effectiveness increased. In addition to the new weapon in Aldridge, Leonard had a Pokemon- esque evolution. Already a fine, All-Star level player, Leonard has become the best wing defender in the NBA who averages 20 points a game and currently has the same three-point percentage as Steph Curry. If there was not another royally famous Small Forward in Ohio we could crown Kawhi as the NBA’s premier wing. The fact that question is even mentioned show how far the San Diego St. product has come.
While this might not be one moment, the revitalization of the Spurs is a dark horse storyline that has been overshadowed (rightfully so) by a record Golden State team as one of the best moments of this year’s season. The change from a team whose window appeared to be welded shut by father time to a team who some are picking to defeat the most winning regular season team ever in the playoffs is something to marvel.