Oklahoma City Thunderis a win away from playing in the NBA Finals for the first time since the franchise moved to Oklahoma. The original franchise of Oklahoma City, the Seattle Super Sonics, already won a title in 1979 and has appeared in three Finals series. The franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and after a few years since relocating, they are on the verge of appearing in the Finals. A win in Game 6 at home, in front of the owners of Oklahoma City Thunder tickets, versus the San Antonio Spurs and the young Thunder would have a great chance of bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Oklahoma City had a record of 8-1 prior to the start of the Western Conference Finals, dismantling powerhouse Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers in the first two rounds. Going against the Spurs in the Conference Finals, Oklahoma City had high hopes of at least stealing one on the road but they were playing a team that has won 18 in a row prior to Game 1. San Antonio continued its winning streak to 20, leading the series 2-0. The Thunder had a chance of stealing Game 1 but squandered a lead in the fourth quarter. In Game 2, their comeback efforts fell short after letting themselves to be down by at least 20 points.
When the series shifted to the Thunder’s home floor for Games 3 and 4, the entire series eventually turned its favor for Oklahoma City. The Thunder won Game 3 and Game 4 with their defense and big contributions from players not named Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. In Game 3, it was Thabo Sefolosha. In Game 4, it was Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, and Nick Collison. For a team that is quite dependent on their stars Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, getting big time contributions from other players shows that their team really has what it takes to take home the title.
During the critical Game 5 of the Western Finals, Oklahoma City’s win showed their growth and maturation as a team. It showed that they are ready to take over the reins of the West. Last year, Oklahoma City was also in the Conference Finals but their inexperience really doomed their chances of marching to the NBA Finals. This year, they fell again to the same hole they had last year but their growth enabled them to overcome the 0-2 deficit and turn that into a 3-2 series lead. In Game 1, the Thunder let a nine-point lead slip away leading to a loss. In Game 5, they had the same situation as the first game but the team did not let this one slip through their hands.
The average age of the players of Oklahoma City is at 26.4, a relatively young age for a championship team but the Thunder has already climbed the ladder quicker than many thought. Just think of this, Durant and Westbrook are 23 while Harden is 22. Ibaka is 22, Perkins is 27, and Sefolosha is 28. There are still other core players that are not in their 30’s and one has to think that his team has a really bright future.
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