Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE Getty Images
The Oklahoma City Blue’s season came to a close midday Saturday, officially being elevated from playoff contention.
Oklahoma City surged out the gate as a championship contender to begin the regular-season. The Blue ranked top 5 in near every major category through eight games, tugging over a three-way tie for first at 7-1. Their first caution sign came February 24 against the Greensboro Swarm, faltering a 19 point lead in a brutal 120-118 loss. Just one day later, Ty Jerome was recalled for the big leagues. becoming the second major guard to leave the team, with the other being Chasson Randle.
Oklahoma City rallied for their next contest, climbing down from a 29 point hole against the Austin Spurs, but fell just shy 109-106. The Blue picked up a strong finish against the then league-best Delaware Blue Coats to swing to 8-3.
This is right about where the water gets murky. The Blue’s playoff ticket would’ve been punched in a March 1 meeting with the Long Island Nets, or any future game, however their overtime defeat raised speculation. Oklahoma City’s back-end schedule stood unparalleled to the rest of the league ending their year against the top 3 seeds in the Raptors 905, Erie Bayhawks, and Santa Cruz Warriors. All three games yielded tough efforts, but all three fell short, ending 8-7.
Despite plummeting 5-of-6 games to close the year, chances of getting in with only 8 wins looked extremely high at first glance. Though this groups misfortune soon became a sport statisticians fantasy.
The Lakeland Magic snagged a playoff spot in silence, finishing the season on a 5-1 hot-streak charging a 9-6 finish. One more loss from Lakeland and Oklahoma City falls in (tiebreaker.) The Rio Grande Valley Vipers were brushed off by the Blue earlier in the season, yet a late push from them earned them a shot late. A March 3 meeting amongst Rio Grande and the G-League Ignite marked a Blue clinch off an Ignite victory. They lost 130-107. Rio Grande ended things on a six-game streak, in a situation where one more blemish to their 9-6 record produced the Blue’s reservations.
Entering the final day of play, Oklahoma City stood-off with the G-League Ignite vying over the last playoff seed. A Blue victory against Santa Cruz would garner a 3-vs-6 matchup against Erie, but their 2pm 113-103 overtime loss shut that door.
The fate of the franchise for the first time in a week changed hands. The Ignite’s 6pm date against the Spurs determined destiny. An Ignite loss — OKC is in. An Ignite victory — it’s all over. The Ignite sparked a 10 point lead through one, 20 through two, and at one point, finding themselves up 41 at it’s apex. The Ignite set no room for nerves, cruising for a 127-92 beating.
In a regular-season ending with so many variables, the dice landed on the only spot Oklahoma City couldn’t recover from — an Ignite-Blue tie.
A year with so many twines, the Oklahoma City Blue churned out likely their best roster ever. And though the Wikipedia page may suggest otherwise, those who were delighted with Blue basketball this season — will never forget it.