The Oklahoma City Thunder look like the favorites to take the NBA title at this point given the way they swept the final four games of the Western Conference finals, and SB Nation has all the reasons why Kevin Durant and company should be hoisting the trophy after the upcoming NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat. Check out Ben Golliver's take below:
The 2012 Western Conference Finals were sometimes referred to as the real NBA Finals due to the overall talent level of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. Many had those two pegged as the best teams in the NBA, so when the two faced off against each other these last two weeks, they expected the best showcase the league could offer this year. Those predictions proved to be true.
The San Antonio Spurs rolled through the first two games the same way they did the 18 games before it for an incredible 20-game winning streak heading into game three. The rest, as they say, was history for OKC as the Thunder came back from the deficit to win an incredible four games in a row. Here's a great video floating around called "A Series to Remember" that's worth reliving for a few minutes.
As the 18 point lead started to slip away last night to the OKC Thunder, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich began to lose his temper. Some of the calls against the Spurs were definitely questionable, but even his own players were driving him crazy. He let loose the most against Tiago Splitter and you can check his in-game rant below.
Another 34 points. Another 14 rebounds. Another great night shooting from the floor, including three of four from three-point range and 12 of 15 from the free throw line. Kevin Durant has been among the best players in the NBA all season, but there has been no better player in the 2012 NBA Playoffs than the star forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Last night’s performance of 34 and 14 against the San Antonio Spurs was only the latest showcase, and it helped the Oklahoma City Thunder come back to defeat the San Antonio Spurs after being down two games to zero to win in game six. The Spurs once looked unbeatable. Now the Eastern Conference champs seem to have no real chance against the way the Thunder are playing right now.
Durant is the anchor here. He’s proven at this point he can carry the team at any level. Last night, the Spurs were once up by 18 in the first half, cruising toward a game seven showdown. Instead the Thunder completely owned the second half and won handily 107-99. That’s a 26 point swing.
Check out Durant’s performances in this series alone: Game 1 – 27 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks Game 2 – 31 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks Game 3 – 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists Game 4 – 36 rebounds, 6 rebounds, 8 assists Game 5 – 27 points. 4 rebounds, 5 assists Game 6 - 34 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists
In sum total of all six games, Durant shot 49 of 92 from the field for a 53 percent field goal percentage.
As the Oklahoma City Thunder head toward the NBA Finals, the spotlight might shine brighter on other NBA stars if the Miami Heat are the opponent. The talk will be about Dwyane Wade and LeBron James more than any player from the heartland. But it doesn’t matter whether the Celtics or Heat suit up in the NBA Finals opposite OKC. The reality is that the biggest and brightest has already arrived and sits waiting for the next chance to display his talent.
Thunder star Kevin Durant just could not wait until the game ended to give his mom a hug to celebrate his first trip to the NBA Finals. The play that sealed the game was this Kendrick Perkins dunk with 24 seconds left:
The past two seasons Durant and the Thunder just were not ready to make the leap to be one of the elite teams in the NBA now. Climbing the ladder is the norm in the NBA and every team has to make the progression of getting knocked out in the playoffs and taking steps this year.
After two years of disappointment, the Thunder have made it one step closer to the NBA Finals and Durant just let his emotions fly.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are advancing to the NBA Finals as they overcame a 15 point halftime deficit to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 107-99. The Thunder had a huge second half where they outscored the Spurs by 23 points by using a small lineup that the Spurs were unable to match. The lineup change by Thunder head coach was one of the few times that he was able to out coach the veteran Greg Popovich.
The Thunder offense came alive in that second half and just ran up and down the court against the Spurs. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 34 points -- 20 coming in the second half -- while Russell Westbrook helped out with 25 points. In fact the entire Thunder offense stepped up in the second half and ended up making 50 percent of their shots including making 10-of-18 from beyond the arc.
Not only did the offense improve their game but the Thunder defense used their athleticism to stop the Spurs from penetrating fo the basket as they easily did in the first half. The Spurs shot over 50 percent in the first half, but they struggled in the second half and for the game ended up making only 44 percent of their baskets.
The third quarter belonged to the Oklahoma City Thunder as they outscored the San Antonio Spurs 32-18 to make it an 81-80 game heading into the fourth quarter. It was the Thunders defense which has stepped as they have been able to stop the Spurs from driving to the basket and have been able to anticipate their next move.
The Thunder went to a small lineup to pick up the pace of the game and it has worked wonders against the Spurs and their lead has evaporated. Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have already upped their scoring production and have now combined for 50 points.
The fourth quarter is underway and Spurs head coach Greg Popovich had Tim Duncan and Tony Parker on the bench to start the fourth quarter, and it looks to be a mistake as the Thunder have stuck with their small lineup and currently lead 85-84 with less than nine minutes left in the game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were looking to close out the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs on their home court Wednesday night, but the Spurs had other ideas as they have ratcheted up their game and are dominating the Thunder 63-48 at the half.