OKC Thunder: Thunder has learned how to come back and win games late
Not long ago, it was Oklahoma City that failed to hold late leads. Experience has helped Thunder players reverse that trend.
In his on-court interview with TNT immediately after the Thunder's thrilling three-point win over the Lakers on Saturday night, Russell Westbrook declared that he always knew his team would come back and win.
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And why shouldn't he have been confident?
All postseason, Oklahoma City has closed out games in grand fashion. The Lakers, in Game 4, simply became the latest victim of the Thunder and its ability to storm back from a fourth-quarter deficit and secure a win.
That trait, not Westbrook's explosiveness or Kevin Durant's daggers or James Harden's surgeon-like precision in the pick-and-roll, has been the most impressive thing about the Thunder's playoff run thus far.
Oklahoma City is now all grown up.
The final five minutes of nearly every Thunder game this postseason has proved as much. Gone are the days when the Thunder would wind up on the wrong end of a blown lead. Now, it's the Thunder that is snatching victories from the jaws of defeat.
Four of the Thunder's seven playoff wins have come by three points or less. Another victory was decided by just six points. Of those five wins, the Thunder trailed by 13 points in the fourth quarter of two games, by seven in the fourth period of two others and by one with a minute remaining in the other.
The Thunder was the road team in both victories in which it trailed by 13 in the fourth quarter.
It's been quite the turnaround for a team that last year bowed out of the playoffs because it couldn't help but wither when put on the ropes. The Thunder's final two games against Dallas in the Western Conference Finals are the most telling of how far this team has come. In Games 4 and 5, the Mavs came back from fourth quarter deficits of 15 points and eight points, respectively.
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