Harrison Barnes: Thunder, not Cavaliers or Warriors, were best team in 2016 playoffs

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In 2015-16, the defending-champion Warriors went an NBA-record 73-9. They were rightfully generating discussion as the best team of all time.

Then, suddenly they fell behind 3-1 to the Thunder in the Western Conference finals. Oklahoma City won Game 3 by 28 and Game 4 by 24.

Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes, who played for Golden State that year, via Road Trippin’:

My opinion is that OKC was probably the best team in the playoffs that year. I mean they were rolling, and we just didn’t have an answer for them. If Klay doesn’t have that crazy Game 6, if he just doesn’t have that crazy game, they were going to the Finals. I mean the way they were built, they were on. Rebounding, scoring – they were doing it all.

This isn’t Barnes slighting the Warriors because they let him walk to sign Kevin Durant. Andre Iguodala, who remained with Golden State, said the same thing.

And they’re right.

As good as the Warriors were throughout the year, the Thunder reached a level in the first four games of the conference finals unmatched by any team that season – including the Cavaliers, who won the title. Led by Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City overwhelmed Golden State with elite athleticism, skill and execution.

The Thunder came back to Earth just enough to allow a comeback. The Warriors won Game 5 at home and Klay Thompson‘s 41 points carried them to a Game 6 win in Oklahoma City. Then, Golden State finished the comeback in Game 7 at home.

The Warriors then blew their own 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, to Cleveland – clearing the way for Durant to sign with Golden State.

No matter how he spins it or what other reasons he had, Durant signed with the best team.

But, for a week that spring, he was already on the best team.