After a 124-92 in Game 1 versus the Spurs, most people did not see the Oklahoma City Thunder winning this series. I for one, was one of those people. I thought that it would be the prototypical Spurs series. They would use their defensive presence to slow you down and use their savvy veterans to find a way to win each game.
Don’t get me wrong, the Spurs almost did that this series, but they did it up until Game 3. Once Game’s 4,5, and 6 came around, they looked like they were aging in dog years.
Back to the Thunder.
Stat of the night: The #Thunder are 1 of 4 teams in NBA history to come back and win a series after losing Game 1 by 30+ points.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) May 13, 2016
That stat says it all. They proved this series that they are capable of being a playoff team that you don’t want to mess with. They stayed true to their game plan and played an uptempo offense that was going to be the x-factor in the series to beat the Spurs.
The Thunder were known for being a team that has blown 15 or so 4th quarter leads this season. They held strong in these last two games when it mattered most. Take tonight for example. They looked like they were folding down the stretch at the end of the fourth quarter, but the defensive help was there. Ibaka had a key block on Tim Duncan, and Andre Roberson stepped up defensively. Both of these plays proved to be crucial before the Thunder closed out the game.
There is a key factor there. They trusted other teammates besides guys named Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Now, can this success hold versus the Warriors? Well, one thing is for sure, if they blow leads late in the game like they did versus the Warriors in the regular season, then they have no chance in this upcoming series. The Warriors were hoping that they would be able to face an older team like the Spurs. Even though most people would agree that the Spurs were the second best team in the Western Conference during the regular season, the Warriors would like to think that they would have more success in a seven game series versus a slower team like San Antonio. With that said, the Warriors will be perfectly fine with having to face the Thunder’s uptempo play.
Question is, can the Thunder play consistent defense like they did in the final three games of this series?
Holding the Spurs to under 100 points in the final three games in no easy task, and it will be that much harder versus the Warriors. The Thunder have to trust their role players along with Durant and Westbrook. It made such a difference in this past series versus the Spurs.
All that being said, it will be an amazing series to watch.
The Thunder proved to us this series that they know how to stay true to their offense, hold down leads in the fourth quarter, and can trust guys other than Durant and Westbrook when it matters most.