OKC Heading Home for the Series
As a player, OKC coach Scott Brooks may have resembled Marty McFly, but as a coach, Brooks seems a hell of a lot more like Doc Brown by how he has found a way to completely alter the lightning speed that the Spurs were traveling at after game 2 of the series. The San Antonio Spurs 20 game win streak seems like a distant memory now that the Thunder have taken a commanding 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals as they head back to Oklahoma City. After their 108-103 victory over the Spurs Monday night, the Thunder look poised to make a trip to the Championship for the first time since they made it as the Seattle Supersonics in 1996. I must apologize to Spurs fans around the world because they day after I wrote that San Antonio was “The Best Team Ever,” they have gone on their first 3-game losing streak of the season and find themselves only one game away from being eliminated from the playoffs.
OKC’s “Big 3” finally played as such for the first time this series. Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook and James Harden have all had at least one great game this series, but this was the first game where it was the 3 of them together that carried the team. Durant finished with 27 points on 10-19 shooting while filling out the rest of the stat sheet with 4 boards, 5 assists and 3 steals. Westbrook came out of gates with some sluggish shooting but finished the game strong by accumulating 23 points and dishing out a game high 12 assists. 6th Man of the Year, James Harden, hit the biggest shot of the game when he pulled up and drained a 3-pointer over Kawhi Leonard with just under 30 seconds left and OKC leading by 2 already. It seemed as if the three of them were just taking turns scoring on a tired looking San Antonio team.
The Spurs “Big 3” weren’t to shabby in their own right, but they had no defensive answers for OKC’s offensive attack. Throughout the first 3 quarters, Tim Duncan was in foul trouble and seemed very slow up and down the court. Tony Parker was able to drive and get to the foul line where he shot 10 for 12, but he had a hard time trying to find his jumper from the opening tip. The Coach of the Year, Gregg Popovich, decided to insert Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup as he tried to match the Thunders intensity. It was by far Manu’s best game as he shot 11-21 from the field, 5-10 from 3 point range and 7-8 from the foul line for a total of 34 points. Ginobili also pulled in 6 boards and had a team high 7 assists. Even though Ginobili shot lights out for most of the game, he still came up just short on his attempted game tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds left. The Spurs are too old to try and keep up with OKC shot for shot, so they need to find a way to stop at least one of their 3 top scorers.
Game 6 on Wednesday will be an exciting one since OKC just went into San Antonio and ruined the Spurs perfect home playoff record. Now the Spurs will have the opportunity to return the favor as they travel to Oklahoma City for a HUGE game 6. I expect the Spurs to come out fighting hard, but if OKC shoots 50% or better, as they did Monday night, from the floor then I will find it hard to imagine the Spurs bringing this series back to San Antonio for a game 7 on Friday.