BROOKS: ‘OH. MY. GOD'
With 14.6 seconds left in Game 6 on Wednesday night and Chesapeake Energy Arena louder than it's ever been since opening its doors a decade ago, it appeared as though Thunder coach Scott Brooks was trying to protect his ears in the deafening din.
As his team put the finishing touches on a 107-99 victory to clinch the Western Conference championship, Brooks actually was gently rubbing both temples to try and calm his nerves.
While he did so, the 46-year-old coach said softly and slowly: “Oh. My. God.”
NBA FINALS TICKETS ON SALE SATURDAY
A limited number of single-game tickets for the first two games of the NBA Finals will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at Thunder.NBA.com.
The series will begin Tuesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena at 8 p.m. Game 2 will be played Thursday in Oklahoma City before the series moves to either Miami or Boston for Game 3.
Season ticket holders will be able to print their tickets online beginning Friday.
DURANT THRIVES ON PRESSURE
Kevin Durant was asked at his team's shootaround Wednesday morning if Game 6, a closeout game in this Western Conference Finals, was the biggest game of his life.
Before answering, the Thunder star sighed.
“You're putting a lot of pressure on me, man,” Durant said, smiling. “You could say that.
“As a kid, you dream about playing in big, big games like this. Hopefully, we come out there and do a good job.”
Eighty percent of the Thunder's roster has never been in this position. For those 12 guys, this is the biggest game of their lives. Only Derek Fisher, Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed have appeared in the NBA Finals. For the rest, this is foreign territory.
“We just got to go out there with the mindset that every possession is important, like if we lose this game it's life or death,” Durant said. “That's the type of approach we need to take.”
HARDEN GETS A SCARE
With 8:40 remaining and the tide continuing to turn toward the Thunder, Oklahoma City got a scare when James Harden was fouled by Manu Ginobili on a break.
Ginobili caught Harden across the nose from behind as Harden tried to convert on the pass from Westbrook.
Harden, who missed the final two games of the regular season with a concussion after being fouled by the Lakers' Metta World Peace, eventually was able to take his free throws.
Harden missed the first, leaving it short, but made the second.
JACKSON T HELPS THUNDER RALLY
After hitting a 3-pointer with 4:22 left in the third to put San Antonio up 74-66, Stephen Jackson was called for a technical foul, helping keep a Thunder rally alive.
“I'm having fun (expletive, expletive),” Jackson yelled, laughing, while right in front of the Thunder bench.
Durant made the technical free throw, then Russell Westbrook hit a long jumper to cut the Spurs lead to 74-69, their smallest lead since more than 4:30 remained in the first quarter.
Jackson's 3-pointer was one of six he hit on his way to 23 points off the bench.
GINOBILI STARTS AGAIN
For the second consecutive game in the series, the Spurs started Ginobili.
“He's definitely a big challenge when he's on the floor,” Brooks said. “He's one of the greatest competitors of all time, the way he attacks the game on both ends. He's feisty, scrappy, makes big plays.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the decision was simple.
“We want him to play more,” Popovich said. “One would want to have their best players on the court as much as possible and starting him allowed me to do that, and we'll do the same again tonight.”
Popovich wasn't worried about how the switch affected his rotation.
“The second unit isn't guys that are just getting into the game for the first time,” Popovich said. “They've been playing all year long, so it's really not much of a factor.”
CRAWFORD TAKES PLAYOFF LEAD
Joey Crawford is the most well-known referee in the NBA.
In general, that's not a good thing for a referee's name to be widely known.
He has the reputation in the league for having a short temper and a quick whistle.
But Crawford clearly has the respect of the NBA.
Wednesday night's game was the 13th for Crawford to work during this season's playoffs, an NBA high.
Scott Foster, Ken Mauer and Monty McCuthen have called 12 games in the postseason.
It was also Crawford's fourth Thunder game. He called Game 1 against Dallas, Game 3 against the Lakers and Game 1 against the Spurs.
SPURS' NEAL ABLE TO PLAY
Gary Neal missed the Spurs' charter flight to Oklahoma City on Tuesday due to an illness.
He also missed the Wednesday's shootaround but warmed up before the game and wound up entering the game late in the first quarter.
Neal wound up playing 10 minutes in the first half, with six points a steal and an assist.
Early in the second quarter, he was fouled by Durant before making a 3-foot jumper. The bucket was counted, drawing boos from the Thunder crowd.
Neal played more than 19 minutes, scoring seven points.
DURANT DRAWS FIRST CHARGE
With just more than eight minutes to go in the game and the Thunder up four points, Durant stepped in front of Ginobili in the lane, drawing a charge.
“That’s his first charge of the year,” Westbrook chimed in before Durant could speak when Durant was asked about it afterward.
“I was going to say that Russ,” Durant answered. “That was my first charge of the year. I just wanted to go out there and sacrifice my body for the team. I knew that would give us a little spark. Manu’s an unbelievable player at twisting his body and making crazy shots.
“I could tell they were excited when I got my first one when I got to the bench.”
BY JOHN ROHDE, RYAN ABER, DARNELL MAYBERRY AND BERRY TRAMEL