So close. So very, very close. We’re at worst half done with the conference finals now. Let’s get to it.
Oklahoma City Thunder 109, San Antonio Spurs 103: Series tied 2-2
Well, now. It seems we have a series on our hands. Having held serve at home to knot up the series at two and make this now a best of three series, the next question that needs answering is whether the Thunder can win on the road. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Serge Ibaka had a near-record setting 26 points on 11/11 from the field and 4/4 from the free throw line, Kendrick Perkins somehow managed 15 points and 9 rebounds on 7/9 shooting, but the headlines belong to Kevin Durant’s 36-6-8 on 13/20 from the field and 9/9 from the line. Of his 36 points, 28 came in the second half, 18 in the fourth quarter, including 16 straight after the Spurs came back from a double-digit deficit to make it close again. The Spurs simply had no answer for him. It’s games like these that remind you that Durant is the NBA’s first player to win 3 consecutive scoring titles since Jordan.
It’s a good thing Durant, Ibaka and Perkins stepped up too, because the other two thirds of OKC’s Big Three pulled a no-show. Actually, James Harden was decent, but Russell Westbrook was pretty much terrible. Harden at least managed 11-7-7 and hit some big shots down the stretch. Westbrook was a non-factor for just about the entire game. And yet the Thunder still won. Ridiculous shooting nights for Ibaka/Perkins aside, that’s concerning if you’re San Antonio.
On the Spurs side, Tim Duncan had 21 points and probably should have gotten a few more calls than he did, Manu Ginobili had 13 points but turned it over 6 times and Kawhi Leonard did his best to match Ibaka, scoring 17 on 7/8 shooting and adding 9 rebounds. Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw were also decent, scoring 11 and 12 respectively. But they’ve got to get more from Tony Parker and Ginobili if they’re going to win this series. Some of the credit goes to OKC for making adjustments and vastly curtailing the degree of ball movement the Spurs can manage, but this is consecutive games in which the Spurs have been taken out of their comfort zone now. They adjusted somewhat for game four, now they need to keep adjusting for game five back home.
As I mentioned in trying to figure out what to make of Heat-Celtics after game three of that series, I’m really not sure what to make of this series anymore. After the Spurs won game two to go up 2-0, I figured they’d still handle OKC without too much trouble. Then the Thunder ran them out of the gym in game three and Durant took over game four and I can’t figure out what’s going on. If I had to bet my life on it, I’d bet on San Antonio in seven, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Thunder win or to see the Spurs win in six. All I know is that I want three more games of this series. Well, really, I want about 20 more games of this series, but since that’s not happening I’ll settle for three.
Sunday, June 3rd:
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics Game 4, 7:30 PM, ESPN