The celebration — if you dare deem it such — that capped the biggest victory in Oklahoma City Thunder history was about as constrained as it could possibly be.
Because the job is not done.
The Thunder is advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in the franchise’s Oklahoma City era after a 107-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma City became just the 15th team in NBA history to come back to win a best-of seven series after trailing 2-0 and just the eighth team to come back and win the series after notching four straight victories.
But every accomplishment thus far will remain lodged in the backseat. The goal from the start for this year’s squad was to win an NBA championship.
“We didn’t want to just get to the Western Conference Finals, because no one remembers who was in the Finals in 2012,” said veteran center Nazr Mohammed. “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 Thunder now awaits the winner between Boston and Miami. With home-court advantage over both, the Thunder will host Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7.
Game 1 is Tuesday.
“Whoever we play, (it’s) two great teams,” said Kevin Durant, who scored a game-high 34 points with 14 rebounds and five assists. “We can’t rely 100 percent on our crowd. We’ve just got to come out there and start the game off with a lot of energy. It’s going to be a tough rough for us, and we’re looking forward to that opportunity. It’s a great feeling right now, but tomorrow we’ve just got to get over it and get ready to see who we play.”
To this point, the Thunder has clobbered all competition.
In the first round, Oklahoma City swept the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. In the semifinals, the Thunder knocked out league royalty, the Los Angeles Lakers, in five games. And Wednesday’s win over the Spurs was as fine of a finish as we’ve seen.
The Thunder came back from an 18-point first half deficit and outscored the Spurs 59-36 in the second half to earn its first Finals appearance.
“As sad and disappointed as we are, you really have to think about it almost like a Hollywood script for OKC in a sense,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
“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.”