The Grizzlies beat the Thunder so decisively that it made me wonder whether Memphis would have beaten OKC even if the Thunder were at full-strength.
It has become a given that as soon as Westbrook was ruled out of the playoffs, OKC was not even close to the team expected to win a second straight West title.
So what's a fair expectation, without Westbrook? Making (but losing) the conference finals? I don't think so -- the Thunder without Westbrook are a playoff team in the West, but clearly not a Top 2 team (let alone No. 1), and possibly not even Top 4. So this exit is fairly appropriate.
The real question is whether this Grizzlies team - as constructed, with those unstoppable two guys up front -- would have beaten OKC this year anyway. I think they would have. It's at least an argument.
And so I'm happy to give OKC an asterisk on this season, but let's not assume they would have gotten past Memphis either way -- at least in this scenario, they have an excuse.
Meanwhile, it is Gabe's 7th birthday. Some of you have been around long enough to remember when I announced he was born in the Quickie on ESPN.com back in May of '06, then all the adventures since.
Now he is a fully formed sports fan -- his favorite players are Cam Newton and Russell Westbrook. His favorite sports are football and basketball (although he also plays soccer and baseball). He loves NFL Red Zone. He is through the fifth Harry Potter book -- his signature gift this year was a Potter Quidditch jersey, which I'm not sure he'll take off. We are celebrating by taking him to Dave and Busters for dinner tonight -- his choice. He is wildly independent, and it is exciting to watch, even as I struggle to give him that leeway to figure out life. It's nice to have sports to bring us together.