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June 2012

NBA Finals Live Blog: Game One

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Hit the jump for the live blog…

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:45 PM ET

You wrote it absolutely right it looks like, Mark. Heat fall in OKC 94-105. Interesting to see how they rebound. The game wasn’t Lebron’s fault, but Westbrook may have turned Wade into Old Wade. If Wade fails to guard Westbrook effectively, hard to see this going six like I thought.

But its been fun guys! Goodnight and remember to follow Mark @Mark_Travis and myself @jakin1013 on Twitter, and visit TheChaseDownBlock.com for more coverage of these Finals!

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:39 PM ET

Is this the series D-Wade gets too old? Keep hearing about injuries lingering with him. We know he’s had season enders before. Westbrook is the most athletic guard in the league now, if Rose loses even a smidge of what he has. Wade may not be able to hang. Might need to book a flight to Germany.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:37 PM ET

The D-Wade/Westbrook matchup is where this is decided I think. Lebron and KD will by and large cancel each other out. If Wade gets trashed by Westbrook, its going to get ugly.

Mark Travis, Founder – 10:37 PM ET

That’s exactly what I wrote in my preview. Wade-Westbrook will likely decide the series. Right now Westbrook is looking a LOT better than Wade.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:35 PM ET

This D-Wade/Westbrook matchup is looking to be much more important that KD and Lebron. Though KD’s length should have told Lebron to stop shooting jumpers a long time ago. If Miami thinks they will win this series trying to outshoot OKC, then numerous people in the organization have been secretly lobotomized.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:31 PM ET

That was a sick shot from Lebron.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:30 PM ET

Hi D-Wade. Good to see you could join us.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:27 PM ET

And that rebounding battle I was talking about? Thunder now leading it 42-35. Just as big for them as KD’s sub-zero capillaries.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:24 PM ET

Lebron needs to quit trying to close and just jump towards the rim with reckless abandon.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:23 PM ET

Durant’s veins are liquid hydrogen.

Mark Travis, Founder – 10:22 PM ET

Haha! It is just six, though. Perhaps this is the game it all turns for James.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:21 PM ET

Minor? I’ll be at Spoelstra’s house with a drum of water ready to get hammered.

Mark Travis, Founder – 10:20 PM ET

Oklahoma City just took a six point lead in the fourth quarter of an NBA Finals game against the Miami Heat with their third and fourth best players on the bench. Five minutes left, it will be a minor miracle if Miami comes back and wins this given their history in such situations.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:19 PM ET

Shane Battier missed a three. I don’t believe in omens, but… that’s a lie. I totally believe in omens.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:18 PM ET

If you say you can show me a man that could defend that last KD Drive, I’ll give you a dollar.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:17 PM ET

Lebron missed free throw in the fourth? Check.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:16 PM ET

That was excellent Pick and Roll defense on Lebron, but they let Chalmers go. Which was likely a decision more than an accident.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:15 PM ET

Also, minutes without a meaningful Lebron play, and then he throws a pass Bosh isn’t ready for. I’m not impressed at all.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:13 PM ET

So does Dwayne Wade hire a guy to jump into to practice that shot? What do you think his pay is?

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:12 PM ET

That was an amazing one handed shot that was pretty much devoid of any contest. I am both thrilled and appalled.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:10 PM ET

Some people have nightmares about falling, I have nightmares about that Russell Westbrook montage.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:08 PM ET

Also, I hate to ruin the suspense, but I am Uncle Drew. That’s the reason I’ve been slacking on articles Mark. Forgive me?

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:06 PM ET

Also, Derek Fisher jump passes make we want to die inside.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:05 PM ET

Miami if you think the answer is jumpers, tweet me. I have computer games I could be playing.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:02 PM ET

ESPN3 just showed a freaking Water Polo Commercial. So cross that off your bucket list, water polo enthusiasts.

Mark Travis, Founder – 10:01 PM ET

Thunder roared back to take the lead in the third. Will LeBron alter his legacy with his fourth quarter performance here or will Durant beat him in crunch time?

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 10:00 PM ET

And we come to the end of the third quarter OKC is up by one. Miami’s response to this heading into the fourth is likely a microcosm for the series as a whole.

Mark Travis, Founder – 10:00 PM ET

I said in my Finals preview column that it seems like yesterday when Wade was the best hyperathletic two guard in the world. Westbrook is inching very close to stealing that title as Wade fades a bit.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:58 PM ET

Thank God my mind didn’t have to reconcile the horrible reality of a successful Fisher drive. Granted, the Westbrook and one is worth more points, but at least it makes sense.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:56 PM ET

I really want a long aside about Jeff Van Gundy’s cat. Can that please happen?

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:55 PM ET

I guess I called it wrong. We may be looking at a Westbrook take over. Which is basically beautiful and terrifying, like a hurricane, or watching someone give birth.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:49 PM ET

That continuation call seem a little dicey to anyone else? He didn’t exactly seem to be in the act at the free throw line when the whistle went off.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:47 PM ET

Shane Battier is unconscious.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:45 PM ET

Wade’s defense on Westbrook there was great. That could be big. Also, Bosh learning not to trip over point guards.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:43 PM ET

Westbrook with seven assists already? If he has the playmaker gear, and uses it, this could end badly for Miami.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:42 PM ET

Are we entering the phase where Lebron James comes for OKC’s soul? He should barrel to the rim until someone proves they can stop him.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:40 PM ET

That was as pretty a dime as one is likely to see this side of Chris Paul. Well done KD.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:39 PM ET

Which is the cue for Wade to drop a one handed banker. I guess I should shut up.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:37 PM ET

Do you buy that Wade may be injured? I don’t. Seems like injured would mean the whole game, and Wade has looksed great in halves. That being said, I feel like Yi Jianlian’s chair could outplay Wade right now.

Mark Travis, Founder – 9:35 PM ET

Thabo Sefolosha is doing everything for the Thunder right now. Defending on the ball incredibly well, blowing up pick-and-rolls and killing passing lanes. What a performance from him so far. He needs as much time as possible on the floor in this series. He’s outplaying Wade right now.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:35 PM ET

Thabo is going to make me throw things. I can take it from the rest of the team, but please don’t lose to Thabo Sefolosha.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:32 PM ET

The Oklahoma City Thunder have all your hustle. So many loose balls. And Westbrook is finding all of them. Still very pleased with how he’s doing these playoffs.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:30 PM ET

Um…Lebron? You can’t drive by Kendrick Perkins? Really? I feel trolled.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:27 PM ET

Leaving Durant with miles between him and any defender is a very risky strategy, Miami. I admire your confidence.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:22 PM ET

Another thing to remember is Miami is currently winning the rebounding battle. You can cede some rebounds or some turnovers, but you better not do both if you want to beat this team.

Mark Travis, Founder – 9:17 PM ET

Turnovers not always a product of nerves, but Oklahoma City wasn’t as settled as they were again San Antonio. If they calm down it will go a long way in helping them get back in the game.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:15 PM ET

My Girlfriend just tweeted about being a basketball widow. I keep telling her that she needs be aggressive and get to the line, and shoot better in the clutch. I’ll probably be single soon.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:12 PM ET

I agree. The Thunder probably said something like “Make Mario Chalmers or Shane Battier beat us!” Just so happens that they are at this point. But the Thunder have to stay the course, as history indicates Miami’s role players will be disappearing any moment now.

Mark Travis, Founder – 9:10 PM ET

Durant was the only Thunder player that looked comfortable throughout the first half but his aggressiveness was tempered by his avoidance of a second foul. He should be more aggressive in the second half. Thunder cut it to seven despite a lights out half from Miami’s role players. If the Thunder can go on a run in the second half, the pressure of a close NBA Finals game on Miami’s role players may force LeBron and Wade to over exert themselves.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:06 PM ET

If Serge Ibaka gets to walk through the lane like that, its going to be a long night for Miami. Also, Battier just got a tech? According to plan, like I said.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:05 PM ET

Wow. That Durant jam was Thunderous. Thank you. I’ll be here all night.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:04 PM ET

I’m fairly concerned that this three point barrage Bosh has been on is unsustainable….which is likely because its vompletely unsustainable.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 9:03 PM ET

Wow… Scott Brooks’s Mom… proving zombies exist.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 8:59 PM ET

I see we have Battier and Chalmers both in double figures…so all is going according to plan for Miami.

Jordan Akin, Columnist – 8:58 PM ET

What’s up guys? I’m here to try very hard to remain impartial to this game, and likely failing miserably.

Mark Travis, Founder – 8:50 PM ET

A pair of nice rebounds from … Derek Fisher allow the Thunder to get out on the break. Fisher hits a couple of shots in a row and the lead is back to nine for Miami. Thunder have had some wide open three-point looks from the wing for Westbrook and Harden. They just aren’t falling right now.

Mark Travis, Founder – 8:35 PM ET

Miami came out on fire from deep but the Thunder kept it within seven thanks to Harden’s buzzer beater. OKC is so hard to put away on it’s home floor. Just ask San Antonio.

Mark Travis, Founder – 8:22 PM ET

Miami’s role players completely comfortable on this environment. Chalmers has been here before and Battier is a veteran not phased by the moment. Thunder players, outside of KD, still look like they are adjusting. Perkins needs to go.

Mark Travis, Founder – 8:13 PM ET

Hello all! It appears as if Oklahoma City’s crowd is a bit nervous. Kind of like a rookie trying to figure out how to conserve his energy to succeed in a longer game. Different stage for everyone involved on the Thunder side. Result is an early lead for Miami.

Legacies On The Line For Duncan, LeBron

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duncanlbj

This article was originally published on Caller.com and is only reproduced here for the author’s personal archives.

Six years ago, Tim Duncan walked out of the interview room at Quicken Loans Arena dawning a gray shirt that said “2007 NBA Champions.” It was Duncan’s fourth such shirt, this one noticeably dry without a champagne stain in sight, and perhaps his easiest to earn. His Spurs had just vanquished the Cleveland Cavaliers in the minimum four games thanks to the versatility of Duncan and the brilliance of young guard Tony Parker.

As he walked off the press platform and back towards the lockerroom, Duncan bumped into Cleveland’s rising superstar LeBron James. James was coming off of his worst series of a very memorable post-season run, which included that epic 48-point performance against the Pistons in the conference finals. The Spurs forced him to do everything in order to get the Cavs a win, and not even the game’s best individual player had enough in him to carry that Cleveland team to a title.

In a moment that will live in NBA lore for decades to come, Duncan immediately embraced LeBron. After sweeping him off the Finals stage, Duncan offered James some words of encouragement before famously telling LeBron that the NBA “is going to be [his] league in a little while.”

As it turns out, Duncan is just as good at prognosticating as he is at posting up.

Despite his poor showing in the Finals, LeBron’s ascent to the top of the NBA ranks was predictable back then; nobody would have called you crazy if you had projected LeBron to have four MVPs in his trophy closet and a ring on his hand by 2013. Conversely, suggesting that the Spurs would be back at the top of the basketball mountain in 2013, fighting to become king of the hill one last time, has been seen as asinine by NBA scribes almost every year since they swept those Cavaliers. Counting the Spurs out and writing them off as too old and too slow to keep grinding out 50-win seasons has become an annual tradition, one the Spurs have made look foolish year-after-year, like clockwork.

In a remarkable twist of fate, two of the game’s greatest titans ever are meeting on the Finals stage again this season, six years after it was perceived that Duncan was handing off the torch. The Spurs have run through the 2013 post-season with little resistance, with the Golden State Warriors being the only team to beat them through three rounds. The Heat, as they did last season, had their ups-and-downs during their trek through the Eastern Conference and had to deal with countless questions about the viability of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, only to deliver their best performance of the post-season last night in their game seven win over the Indiana Pacers in the conference finals.

Now we are presented with a Finals that couldn’t have two more contrasting organizations. Aside from the obvious main event of LeBron vs Duncan, we have several storylines that make for extremely compelling undercards. This is a battle between a team that organized a welcoming party for their big three in front of thousands of people and a team that eludes the spotlight like it’s the plague. It’s a battle between a team that used conventional methods to acquire three superstars to build a championship team around and a team that artificially transformed themselves into title contenders. It’s the media magnets versus the attention repellents; the witty, wise, terse and veteran head coach versus the analytical, astute, driven and bright up-and-comer. the marketing moguls versus the guys whose biggest ads are local ones for a Texas based grocery store; the glamorous beaches and lively clubs of South Beach versus the historic streets and avenues of the Alamo City.

In other words: It’s one hell of a Finals matchup.

While there are many specific battles within this series that will dictate the winner of this series, such as how Miami defends Duncan in crunchtime, who wins the Ginobili/Wade matchup, how Splitter impacts the game with his hard rolls to the rim, how Danny Green gets involved if Miami’s rotations are swift, how Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Battier shoot the ball and so on, at the end of the day, the biggest storyline of this entire series is all about where this tale began: with the two legends.

It’s incredible how much is at stake for LeBron and Duncan in this series. I thought last year was a huge deal for the legacies of two future Hall-of-Famers when LeBron and Kevin Durant took the floor, but this takes it to another level. Durant will soon be seen in the same glowing historical context that LeBron is seen in now, but it’s unlikely that he will ever catch Duncan in the accolade department, not with his Manu Ginobili now playing for the Houston Rockets.

It should be known that the Spurs could have lost to the Warriors in round two and not made the Finals next year and Duncan still could have retired as a top 10 player of all-time, but another run to the Finals at the age of 37, especially with Timmy being the most important player on the team, is not a tiny addition to his multi-page resume. Duncan has a chance to win his fifth ring 14 years after he won his first one back in 1999, which is just absurd. The only chance for another active player to match that accomplishment is if Kobe Bryant makes it to the Finals again before he retires (his first ring came in 2000).

Speaking of Kobe, he fits into this battle of legacies quite prominently. Aside from the fact that he’s slowly losing the “most times compared to Michael Jordan” title to LeBron, the closest thing Kobe has ever had to a rival is Duncan. While he never guarded Duncan or matched up with him like Magic did with Bird, I’m sure Bryant would tell you that Duncan was the only player from his era that he considered a historical competitor given his similar amount of success. If Duncan matches Kobe with his fifth title, the debate for the best player of their generation becomes one of the most interesting talking points in NBA history, and Duncan would probably have a slight edge.

For LeBron, a second ring gets him even closer to the Kobe/Jordan standard that he is constantly held to. His individual level of play has arguably already risen above the levels that those two ever reached, so all that is left for James to make a legitimate challenge to Jordan’s throne, surpassing Bryant as the best post-Jordan perimeter player in the process, is to pile up championships. A loss, however, would be devastating for James, who already has as many Finals losses as Kobe and two more than the undefeated Jordan.

So while there are many X’s and O’s and schematic trends to follow throughout this series, the grand scheme implications of this series are far more interesting to me.

Will Duncan capture his fifth ring, remain undefeated in the Finals, become unanimously recognized as the greatest player of his generation and perhaps even enter the discussion as a top five player ever? Will LeBron come up short in the Finals for the third time of his career, leading to an apex of undeserved criticism for the game’s most dominant player?

Or will LeBron win back-to-back titles, a feat so rare that not even the Spurs have accomplished it, redeeming himself for his loss to the Spurs in 2007 while proving Duncan right at his own expense?

Watching the way these two battle over the course of this series, even if LeBron isn’t matched up with Duncan (although this could actually happen), will be fascinating, and that alone will make this Finals one for the ages.When searching for a favorite in this series, it’s tough ignore the fact that Wade and Bosh were not good versus the Pacers. Improvement for both could be in the cards, but the Spurs will surely be ready for Miami’s best punch. Though Miami has the best player in this series and the best player in the world, I turn to something that Spoelstra said when asked about closing out the Pacers:”We know that the toughest teams to play are the ones that are on their last stand.”

When interpreting that quote in the context of these Finals, you realize that this Spurs team is likely playing the last Finals games of the Duncan/Ginobili/Parker era. And I think you can safely assume that the Spurs realize this, as the players have made subtle references to allowing Duncan to go out on top. The Heat have a ton of talent and are a great team, but the toughest teams to play are the ones on their last stand.

And what a glorious last stand this would be for one of the greatest combinations of players and coach to ever grace the hardwood.

Pick: Spurs in six.

Kevin Durant’s Evolution Ties Up The Western Conference Finals

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Kevin Durant’s start to last night’s game was pretty ominous. The feeling coming into game four was that – after an emotional game three win for the Thunder – the veteran Spurs would strike back and take complete control of the series. That’s the way things seemed to be going at first. Similar to the opening sequences in game one, Durant was being bullied off the ball and was unable to get any separation from either Kawhi Leonard or Stephen Jackson, leading to a invisible beginning for the three-time scoring champ.

The result was a stuttering Thunder offense that took a lot of time to get where it needed to go – something that played into San Antonio’s hand. At one point in the first quarter, TNT got a great shot of Jackson draped all over Durant on the right wing while a visibly frustrated Durant pushed him off. That scene was an accurate representation of what has become the status quo for defending Durant. Get up into his body, push him off his spots and keep him from getting easy shots on the break. Though the scored was tied at the end of the first period, it seemed like the opportunity was there for the Spurs to step on the Thunder’s throat.

And then something unexpected happened. When a scorer as good as Durant has as quiet a quarter as he did in the first (he only took two shots), they tend to try to force themselves into a rhythm by getting off a few shots in a row, even if they aren’t exactly great looks. It’s not an ideal practice but the best often make it work, and Durant has fallen into this routine before. But last night, instead of trying desperately to get himself going with some tough 20-footers, Durant responded to San Antonio’s successful defensive scheme in the first quarter by making everyone around him better.

Hit the jump for the rest of Mark’s piece…

Durant was still drawing a ton of attention from the Spurs defense, but he was able to get some space in the second quarter thanks to some more acute screening from OKC’s big men. But instead of shooting the ball on the catch, Durant waited out the defense and forced them to react to him as a playmaker. San Antonio couldn’t do it. The Thunder’s offense looked better than it has all post-season long in that quarter. They may have scored more points previously but the ball movement was, frankly, Spurseque. Ball movement became contagious and Oklahoma City manufactured good look after good look because the ball was moving through the air instead of via the dribble. Suddenly the team that ranked dead last in assists this season was getting three to four good looks per possession and the team praised for their precise execution all season long was reduced to one-on-one matchups.

Oklahoma City took control of the game, and perhaps the series, in that quarter. They outscored the Spurs 29-17 and sent a clear message with a 12-point halftime lead. Durant’s willingness as well as his ability to go from pure scorer to playmaker swung the game for the Thunder. Their stagnant, pull-up jumper laden offense turned into a juggernaut with a swing pass to the corner from Durant. Durant was as elated as he’s ever been on the floor when he found Kendrick Perkins for a dunk in the final minute of the second quarter to push the Thunder’s lead to 10, which was a glimpse at his infallible team-first attitude. And then with six seconds left in the half, Durant hit a jumper from 16-feet, properly illustrating just how dangerous of a player he can be.

San Antonio would push back, of course, getting Oklahoma City’s lead all the way down to four with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. But just when you thought all of Durant’s work early in the game would be wasted, the second stage of his evolutionary night kicked in. His finale for last night’s performance was masterful and it left everyone in the basketball universe begging for more. Durant’s stunning efficiency in the fourth quarter solidified what was previously a prowling narrative: The Thunder superstar is the best closer in basketball.

Durant spent the first two rounds of the playoffs winning individual late game battles with Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant, two of the sport’s most storied and respected clutch performers. He hit the game-winner in game one of the Dallas series and he had a pair of clinchers in closing seconds against the Lakers, too. After successfully eliminating Nowitzki and Bryant, Durant was pitted against a team full of crunchtime options. Durant’s post-season journey has unfolded just like a video game with each boss getting progressively harder. From the seven minute mark to the one minute mark, the Spurs scored on eight of their 11 possessions as their surgical offense picked apart the Thunder defense and their role players made some tough shots. And it didn’t matter one bit.

That’s how good Durant was. He completely took over the game once the Spurs came within four. He seemed to sense the moment and realized the game was hanging in the balance; either he took over, or the Spurs took the series. Durant made his choice and the Thunder responded by going to their best crunchtime play nearly every time down the floor in the fourth. The play started with James Harden coming off of a downscreen and receiving the ball from Russell Westbrook on the left wing. Westbrook then went down to the right block and set a brush screen for Durant, who used the screen to get to the free throw line or the right elbow in a post-up situation.

No matter what San Antonio did to defend it, Durant scored. He hit the 17-foot jumper, he hit one-handed push shots from nine feet out, he hit an incredibly tough fadeaway with contact and, inexplicably, he got free for a lob (with a foul) as the Spurs cheated on the Westbrook brush screen. San Antonio fought through the screen to get into Durant, they switched Parker onto to Durant (not unlike what they did against Dirk in the 2006 Western Conference Finals) and, after six scores, sent a double at him. None of it made a difference on this night. The Thunder only had to go to their secondary action for Durant on that play (a screen on the left side from Perkins) once in the fourth. That’s how well Durant was playing.

Durant scored 16 consecutive points during one stretch (he was 7-of-8 from the field in the final seven minutes of the game) and it could have been more if San Antonio hadn’t started sending doubles his way. When the Spurs did send someone at Durant, he dribbled away from his launching point (or where he had doing most of his scoring during his crunchtime binge) and hit a wide open Harden on the left wing for a three that iced the game.

Durant delivered the total package for the Thunder last night. Not only did his typically unbelievable and absurd scoring ability shine through, but it appeared as if Durant’s pulse and the beat of the Thunder were indistinguishable after the first quarter. Durant made his teammates better last night, invigorating them on both ends of the floor by getting them in the right spots and firing them up with constant scoring. The Thunder’s defense was inspired by their offense last night, and their offense was a creation of Durant’s.

Durant’s evolution into something even more than a deadly scoring threat took his team to an entirely different level. Oklahoma City isn’t supposed to win when Westbrook and Harden score 18 points on 23 shots, but because Durant got everyone’s juices flowing with his pass happy second quarter, everyone was involved and a flawless Serge Ibaka (he had 26 points on 11-of-11 shooting and all of his looks were wide open dunks or wide open 18-footers) and an inspired Kendrick Perkins (15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, with only one basket outside the paint) provided the supplemental production.

With the offense flowing, all the Thunder needed to do to even this series up was defend. Oklahoma City took what was one of the most productive offenses in recent NBA history and forced them to play one-on-one basketball. Thabo Sefolosha has done a great job containing Tony Parker on the pick-and-rolls which has made the Spurs rely on either Parker and Manu Ginobili scoring on their own, something they aren’t great at. If that fails, San Antonio has had to fallback on posting Tim Duncan, something that ruins their tempo and presents few efficient scoring chances. Duncan shot 39% on post-ups this season and he is now shooting 38% overall in this series. Because San Antonio’s defense is so suspect, if you’re able to take them out of their offensive flow for even 25% of a game, you’ve got a chance to beat them, and the Thunder did just that in games three and four.

After evening up the series, the young Thunder know they have what it takes to win and, more importantly, they know what they have to do to win. Durant has taken his game to another level, Oklahoma City’s role players are contributing when they need to and the Thunder have all of the momentum headed into game five.

The Thunder grew up last night.

Now it’s time to see if the resilient Spurs have any growing left to do.

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