Thunder 107, Spurs 99
Nuggets from my notebook from Wednesday’s Game 6 win over the San Antonio.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder is headed to the NBA Finals.
- Let that first nugget sink in. How surreal is this? Eight years ago, Oklahoma City wasn’t even an afterthought to the NBA. Four years ago, the Thunder was a start-up organization in a newbie city. In that inaugural season, the Thunder won a mere 23 games and was the laughing stock of the league through the first 50. Through the first 33, Oklahoma City was on pace to be the worst team in NBA history. Now look where this team and this city is, on the biggest stage in professional basketball, four wins away from becoming the toast of the town and the envy of every other.
- The Thunder didn’t go overboard in celebrating this win. That’s to be expected with an organization that has been total class from the start. Not only that, but this is an organization that expects to be here. The Thunder had its sights set on this day even during that 23-win nightmare. Instead of over-the-top- celebration, there was a general feeling that this was only a matter of time and, more importantly, just another step in the right direction.
- I wish I could put into words what this means to this city and this state. I can’t. Not right now at least. Just know that it’s special, something nobody ever saw coming.
- What a way to punch your ticket to the Finals. The Thunder outscored the Spurs 57-36 in the second half after trailing by 18 in the second quarter and 15 at halftime. It was as impressive of a finish as we’ve ever seen.
- Russell Westbrook: “I just think we believed from when we went down and got into halftime. Guys came together and said we can come out with this win. I think coming out of the half we did a great job defensively picking up our intensity, being a little more aggressive, and that’s Thunder basketball. And that’s what got us the win tonight.”
- Russ on the franchise’s early struggles shaping this team: “You can look at it as a negative, but I think as a group and as an organization, we’ve seen some light and we’ve seen that one day we’d be at this moment and one day we’d have an opportunity to win a championship. Guys stayed committed each and every year, each summer came in every day and worked hard and it’s paying off.”
- The Thunder became just the 15th team in NBA history to come back an win a best-of-seven series after trailing 2-0.
- The Thunder became just the eighth team in NBA history to come back and win a best-of-seven series with four straight victories after trailing 2-0.
- Who’s it gonna be? Boston or Miami? I’m not sure that it matters. This looks like the Thunder’s year.
- It’s been noted by many, but the Thunder’s road to the Finals was a pretty impressive one. OKC knocked out one champ after another, from Dallas to the Lakers to the Spurs. And to win the title, the Thunder will have to take down another championship franchise.
- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: “As sad and disappointed as we are, you really have to think about it almost like a Hollywood script for OKC in a sense. They went through Dallas, last year’s NBA champion, then they went through the Lakers, then they went through us. Those three teams represent 10 of the last 13 championships, and now they’re going to go to The Finals and play either Boston or Miami, and that’ll be 11 of the last 13 championships. I don’t know if anybody has ever had a run or gone through a playoff playing those kinds of teams. It’s just incredible, and I think it’s pretty cool for them.”
- Nazr Mohammed: “We didn’t want to just get to the Western Conference Finals, because no one remembers who was in the Finals in 2012. Who’s going to care in a couple of years? You only remember who won. Guys really, really understand that. I think guys understand that it’s all about winning. It’s not about just making it and being happy.”
- The Spurs shot 32.5 percent in the second half after shooting 54.5 percent in the first. Whatever was said at halftime worked.
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks on the halftime speech: “We talked about a few things that were very important, and it had nothing to do with stats. It had everything to do with who we are as men, who we are as a team, the type of spirit that we want to show every time down the court. It was all about that, all about body language, about being a family. I thought our guys did that the first possession of that second half and they did not look back.”
- Not sure what was up with the championship T-shirts and hats. Anybody else notice they were silver and black? Memo to the NBA, or the Thunder or whoever is in charge of that in the next round. Print up some blue shirts if the Thunder wins.
- It wasn’t in the last second, or even the last three minutes, but that 3-pointer by Derek Fisher that put the Thunder up 96-91 was a shot that showed why he’s on this team and why Brooks trusts him so much.
- That 3 by Fisher was the start of a fantastic minute-and-a-half stretch by James Harden, who assisted Fish on the 3-ball. Harden followed that by hitting a 3 of his own to put the Thunder up by six at 99-93 before finding a cutting Westbrook for a three-point play that put OKC ahead 101-95.
- What else can you say about Kevin Durant? After admitting earlier in the day that this game was the biggest of his life, KD went the distance and dominated in just about every way imaginable. Final line: 34 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, one steal, 9-for-17 shooting, 4-for-8 from 3-point land, 12-for-15 from the foul line, 48 minutes.
- Durant: “After we started the first quarter, I went to the bench and told coach I can go all night. I can go 48. I didn’t think they would let me do it, but they kept me in, and I was just trying to get my team a spark. Coach is always getting in my ear about inspiring the team by my play. I was terrible in the first quarter on defense and I just wanted to play as hard as I can and leave it out there on the floor and hopefully my teammates follow, and they did a great job.”
- That third quarter was about as entertaining a quarter as we’ve ever seen. The Thunder came out hot, using an 11-2 run to cut the 15-point halftime deficit to six. And from there, the beauty of NBA basketball began. Both teams were battling, one trying to fend off the other and the other trying its best to slice into the deficit and build some momentum for the final period. Talent took over. Each team made incredible shot after incredible shot. And it set the stage for an ending that didn’t disappoint.
- There’s tons of things about this game that will make lasting memories. I’m sure you don’t want to read about them now. Just enjoy this one.
- Up next. Game 1 on Tuesday.
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