A Changing Of The Guard In The West
Breaking up is hard to do, and after Game 6, with the debacle by the San Antonio Spurs, it is now more evident that it is the end of the line for them. In the aftermath of Game 6, the OKC Thunder left the Spurs with confetti all over them and broken-hearted fans worldwide.
For two months, the Spurs seemed invincible, being on a 20-game winning streak. But that all came to end after Game 3, when OKC overcame a 2-0 deficit and won four games in a row. Cue up the slow singing and flower bringing in San Antonio because the funeral can possibly begin this summer, with some veteran mainstays retiring or others going elsewhere.
After the Spurs gave their coach Greg Popovich “some nasty” after Game 1, they found themselves with a 2-0 series lead over the OKC Thunder. The general consensus about this year’s Western Conference Finals was that the series was over and the Spurs were going to the NBA Finals.
OKC was down 18 in Game 6 and it seemed as though this series was headed for a 7th and deciding game. However, the Thunder has proved yet again why they are one of the premier teams in the NBA. The Thunder erased a 15-point half-time deficit before pulling ahead in the fourth quarter and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1996 when they were known as the Seattle SuperSonics.
Kevin Durant played the entire 48 minutes but the fatigue didn’t stop him from scoring 34 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
“I was not going to take him out,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “I don’t care how many times he looked at me fatigued. He has enough, and I think all of our guys have enough to play. You just have to fight through it.”
”I told the coaches that I could go all night,” Durant added. “I could go 48, and I didn’t think they would let me do it. But they kept me in and I just tried to give my team a spark.”
Even before the final buzzer sounded, Kevin Durant went over to hug his family; signifying that the weight has been lifted and in just five short years in the NBA, he is going to the NBA Finals.
”I never want to take those moments for granted,” Durant said. ”I know it’s just one step closer to our dreams, but it felt good.”
For San Antonio, Tony Parker had 29 points and 12 assists, but only two assists and eight of the points came in the second half; two in the third and six in the fourth quarters.
Tim Duncan scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Additionally, Stephen Jackson scored 23 as San Antonio lost its fourth straight, after becoming only the fourth team in NBA history to win 20 games in a row.
”There’s not much to complain about,” Manu Ginobili said. ”We had a great run. We just couldn’t beat these guys.”
This loss for the Spurs against the Thunder can possibly foreshadow the Changing of the Guard in the Western Conference.
Oklahoma city GM Sam Presti is a R.C. Buford disciple, the architect of the Spurs. Sam Presti has built the Thunder in the same mold as the Spurs. The OKC version of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili is Durant, Westbrook, and Harden.
Both GM’s have laid the foundation for the long term success of both teams, and while one team seems to be quietly fading to black, the OKC Thunder are rising to a national spotlight.