OKC: western conference champions
OKC finishes their job by defeating Spurs, who have 20 games winning streak and before facing OKC they were 8-0 in the playoffs. Spurs lost 4 games in a row to OKC after winning 20. 4 games in a row was their biggest losing streak of the season. After losing first 2 OKC came back strongly and went on winning next 4 to take away the series and enter finals. They played splendidly and flawlessly. This was a historic comeback by OKC, they rallied from 18 down to drop the Spurs in-game 6 and became just 3rd team in NBA history to win 4 straight in conference finals after trailing 2-0. For Spurs their bad form could not have come at more bad time. Before the start of the 4th game all eyes were on Parker, if there was any chance to force a game 7 then it was because of Parker. They were struggling in their pick and roll game and on the other side OKC was at their best. After game 5 Spurs championship era was hanging in balance. Thunder’s growth and maturity was their key to success. Kevin Durant had 34 points and 14 rebounds while playing all of regulation for the first time all season, and the Oklahoma City Thunder claimed a spot in the NBA finals by beating the San Antonio Spurs 107-99 on Wednesday night. Russell Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who trailed Game 6 of the Western Conference finals by 18 in the first half and erased a 15-point halftime deficit before pulling ahead to stay in the fourth. The franchise will play for the NBA title for the first time since 1996. Tony Parker had 29 points and 12 assists for San Antonio, but only eight of the points and two assists came in the second half. Tim Duncan chipped in 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Stephen Jackson scored 23.
Durant celebrated even before the final buzzer, hugging his family seated court side after a foul was called with 14 seconds remaining. The Thunder became the NBA’s 15th team to come back from a 0-2 deficit in a seven-game series, doing it against a team that had won 20 games in a row. Parker, who struggled against Sefolosha, was in vintage form. Parker made seven of his first nine shots, wiggling into the lane for runners and layups while also setting up his teammates. After shooting 55% in the first half, San Antonio went only 7 for 22 in the third quarter and clung to an 81-80 lead heading into the fourth. San Antonio missed nine of 11 3-pointers in the second half. People said they were too young, they were at battle tested and it’s not time but they prove everybody wrong. More importantly, with the disappointment of the past two seasons forming an essential part of their learning curve, this OKC team has finally learned to win no matter how tight the contest. In eight playoff games this postseason, which have been settled by six points or less, OKC has come out on top on six occasions. . Proof of their maturity was on display in Game 5 as well when even though the Thunder saw a 13-point fourth-quarter lead turn to two points with just less than two minutes to go, OKC was able to hang on when James Harden hit a 3-pointer over Kawhi Leonard for a 106-101 lead with 28 seconds to go. It was as OKC head coach, Scott Brooks, said, “We had a couple of bad stretches, but we didn’t break. We battled through that.” Another area of improvement one has saw in the Thunder this postseason is the way they have taken care of the ball. At the end of the shortened regular season, OKC ranked first in turnovers per game (16.35) in the league with San Antonio averaging the third fewest at 13.56 a game. As of now, though, OKC appeared to have flipped a new leaf. They have turned the ball over the second fewest times (11.21 a game) of the 16 teams that made it to the 2012 playoffs. San Antonio, however, ranks seventh at 14.46 turnovers a game. In the Western Conference Finals alone, the Spurs have turned the ball over a whopping 81 times (16.2 a game) compared to the Thunder’s 58 times (11.6). The greatest compliment for the Thunder’s toughness, nevertheless, came from the normally reticent San Antonio head coach, Gregg Popovich, who said, “Championship teams win on the road. Oklahoma City just did that. They’ve proven that they are a championship calibre team. We have to go do that. If we can’t win on Wednesday, we’re not a championship calibre team. It’s as simple as that. You look at anybody who’s won championships and they’ve won on the road as the process goes along. It’s what you do and they just did it.”
When they were crowned with western conference championship trophy, it was energetic atmosphere at Oklahoma City. Crowd was roaring, shouting. While talking to Durant they started shouting MVP for this young 23-year-old lad and it was the best feeling that one could enjoy.
Game 1 of the NBA finals will be Tuesday night in Oklahoma City against either Boston or Miami. The Celtics lead that series 3-2 and can earn a trip to the finals with a win at home in Game 6 on Thursday night.