Author’s Note: Due to John having finals to study for, I’ll be covering the entire game tonight, as opposed to just the Spurs side.
Welcome to the NBA Finals, Oklahoma City. San Antonio, better luck next year.
In what turned out to be one of the most entertaining Western Conference Finals in recent memory, the Oklahoma City Thunder knocked off the top seeded San Antonio Spurs and have got their first trip to the NBA Finals since 1996 when they were still in Seattle playing at the Key Arena.
But I’ll be damned if they didn’t have to work their tails off for this victory.
The Thunder trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half and 15 points at halftime, but none of that mattered. The Thunder exploded out of the gate in the second half outscoring the Spurs 59-36 and holding them to just 18 points in each quarter.
It was a comeback largely fueled by their All Star duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Durant, who has epitomized brilliance all post season, had arguably his best game of these playoffs, going for 34 points and hitting nine of his 17 shots. He also grabbed a game high 14 rebounds and dished out five assists as well. Westbrook scored 25 points while grabbing eight rebounds and handing out five assists.
You can’t entirely discount the effort the Spurs put in though, as it was almost good enough to stretch this series to a game seven. Unfortunately, almost doesn’t matter in this sport.
Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were both on their games tonight, scoring 29 and 25 respectively. Parker also chipped in 12 assists while Duncan was tied for the game high with 14 rebounds. They also got a huge game out of Stephen Jackson off the bench, who scored 23 points and hit six of his seven three point attempts.
The Spurs came out as the aggressors early in the game, jumping out to the big halftime lead. They outscored the Thunder 34-20 in the opening quarter and scored 63 first half points. This was helped largely by their three point shooting, as they hit nine of their 15 attempts in the first half. It looked like they were well on their way to a game six victory, which would have forced a game seven in San Antonio.
Unfortunately for them, basketball is a game of four quarters, not two.
After the sizzling first half from the arc, they hit just two of eleven attempts in the second half, and spent most of it watching the lead they had built be whittled away until it was no more.
It was a sad ending for a team that was so hot at one point, but that’s the nature of the NBA. And for a team like the Spurs, can we even say “There’s always next year”, like we’re so accustomed to doing when our team is defeated? Only time will tell.
Player of the Game: Kevin Durant
Without question. The man played all 48 minutes for the first time all year and he was the epitome of efficient tonight. He dropped 34 points on just 17 shots, hit four of his eight treys, and hit 12/15 from the foul line. That’s damn good right there. And that excludes his 14 rebounds and five assists (to just two turnovers). Durant is in the process of having one of the best postseason runs that I’ve ever seen, and if he keeps it up, I have a hard time believing the Heat or the Celtics will be able to contain him.
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