I am happy (if tired) to report I was able to stay up for all 3 OTs from last night's Thunder-Grizzlies game.
Partly, that's because it's part of the job and partly, it's because there is something awesome about the super-late-night pivotal playoff game going into the wee hours, where the only thing you have to keep you company is the flickering TV (virtually muted to not keep my wife up) and the patter on Twitter.
In the end, it was worth it, because if in fact the Thunder won the series with last night's epic win, it may go down as the playoff trial that defined them as a team and franchise.
That was the theme of the night -- the Heat's win in Boston was certainly the biggest win of the "Big Three" era in Miami. I would call it the biggest win of LeBron's career (and certainly Bosh's); Wade gets a "ring" exemption to "biggest win" talk.
This was it: Say what you want about the Celtics' weaknesses, this was still the defending East champs playing on their floor, where LeBron and Wade and the Heat haven't won in forever, in a game that Miami really needed -- the difference between being up 3-1 on the Celtics and tied 2-2 (having lost 2 straight) is everything.
It feels comfortable to say the Heat are going to vanquish Boston in this series -- and maybe from relevancy as an elite NBA team, just as the Mavericks did with the Lakers on Sunday.
It feels comfortable to say that the Heat just had their "breakthrough" as a team, and that not only does it seem inevitable that they will win the East, but it finally feels realistic that they will win an NBA title in their first year of being together -- a once-unthinkable proposition for me.
The end of the Heat-Celtics game had my mind racing at the implications -- it flowed right into the taut Thunder-Grizzlies game that saved OKC's season (if also layering it with this meta-intrigue of big brother Durant vs. little brother Westbrook, battling for shots).
While the Celtics and Lakers are being ushered out, fans and pundits are cheering for more from the Thunder and Grizzlies -- a best-of-three series, with the entire spotlight on them (and Bulls-Hawks, oddly, as a kind of afterthought), feels like a worthy way to spend the rest of the week.
One quick unrelated note: Josh Johnson vs. Roy Halladay tonight, in the pitching match-up of the year in baseball and one that is worth finding the sports bar or friend with MLB Extra Innings to crash at and enjoy.