|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NBAWhen this Western Conference Championship series between Oklahoma City and San Antonio commenced on Sunday May 27th, it appeared that the much more experienced Spurs were in the position of dispatching the younger, albeit, very talented, Thunder, in relatively short order.
After all, San Antonio was on a roll that had not been seen for a long time around the NBA. Click here to take a look at the other Spurs playoffs news. All they had done entering the conference finals, was win the last 18 games in a row dating back to the compressed 66 game regular season schedule and continuing without a loss in the postseason.
So when they emerged following game one with a 101-98 victory for number 19 straight, some people wondered if they'd ever lose another. That feeling was strongly reinforced when they soundly defeated Oklahoma City in game two 120-111. Even Jordan's Bulls had not looked quite this strong during their dominance.
However, as the folks by the Riverwalk got their brooms out, the fandom in Oklahoma was ready to give their Thunder an exceptional homecourt boost. The Thunder responded not only to the home crowd, but to a crafty move by coach Scott Brooks, that may have been the turning point for Oklahoma City.
He assigned Thabo Sefolosa to guard Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, both of whom had excelled in the firts two contests. The result was an impressive 102-82 defensive shutdown by the Thunder and an end to the Spurs 20 game win streak.
All eyes were on Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan in game four to see how they would react to losing for the first time in awhile. But they should have been watching the Thunders big men, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins who had been relatively quiet up to now, explode for a combined 41 points and a 2-2 series tying OKC win 109-103.
Now the Spurs needed to reestablish themselves at home and insure at least a game seven back in the Alamo City, no matter what might occur in Oklahoma in between. However, the tide had turned for good as the Thunder showed they were, in fact, the best in the West, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden providing a balanced attack in a 108-103 triumph on the Spurs homecourt.
It seemed at that point, after winning 3 in a row, it was almost just a formality to return home for the 4 games to 2 series victory celebration on Wednesday. They didn't make it look easy, trailing by 15 at the half, but dominated the second half, outscoring the tired Spurs 59-36, in their eventual 107-99 win and first NBA Western Conference title in the franchises short history. They now await the winner of the Miami/Boston series to attempt to capture their first Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy as well. Check out the Betroyal.com odds for all the latest info on the NBA Finals line.