by TIMMY JOSEPH Staff Writer
The Oklahoma City Thunder lost Game Six of the Western Conference Finals to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, May 31, which ended their season and hopes for an NBA championship.
The Thunder came back to force the game into overtime, but could not hold on against a more experienced Spurs team that won the game 112-107.
The Thunder had an extraordinary playoff run filled with wild finishes, unexpected comebacks, and almost impossible miracles.
Their playoff road started against the Memphis Grizzlies. These two teams have had a bitter rivalry, and this series displayed the intensity at its finest.
In game one, the Thunder almost lost their 25-point lead, but held on to win 100-86.
Game two was a perfect example of the wildness the Thunder went through. They were down by five points with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Though the game looked over, the unexpected happened.
MVP Kevin Durant hit a three-point shot from the corner while getting fouled to convert a four-point play. Then, down by one point, the Thunder fouled Grizzlies guard Michael Conley, who made one of two free throws and made it a two-point game, 99-97.
Guard Russell Westbrook missed a wild three, but center Kendrick Perkins tipped the ball back in as the buzzer ended to tie the game up and force overtime.
In overtime, however, the Grizzlies ran away with the game and won 111-105 to squash the Thunder’s miraculous comeback.
Freshman Akash Patel said, “Even though they lost, that was one of the greatest games I have seen in my life!”
Game three was another miraculous finish for the Thunder as they forced it into overtime again. They were down by four points with 26 seconds left when Westbrook hit a three-pointer and got fouled to convert a four-point play. The game went into overtime where the Grizzlies managed to pull out another win, 98-95.
Game four was a display of the Thunder bench stepping up as backup point guard Reggie Jackson scored 32 points to fuel the Thunder to a 92-89 victory.
In game five, the Thunder lost by a fraction of a second as Serge Ibaka’s desperation tip in was shot after the buzzer and did not count, resulting in a 100-99 win for Memphis.
Games six and seven were easy wins for the Thunder as they won 104-84 and 120-109, respectively, to advance to the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
In the next round, they faced their enemy the Los Angeles Clippers for a spot in the Western Finals.
It would prove to be a tough task for the Thunder as they lost game one 122-105 mainly due to Clippers’ star guard Chris Paul’s eight three-pointers.
Before game two, Durant was awarded the 2013-2014 NBA MVP award and gave, what some believe to be, the most inspirational MVP acceptance speech ever.
The Thunder were fueled by the speech and responded with a win of their own 112-101 and then went to Los Angeles to steal another win in game three, 118-112.
Game four was an excellent display of resilience from the Clippers who managed to come back with under two minutes left in the game and won 101-99 as Ibaka’s potential game-winning tip was a fraction of a second too late once again.
Game five was perhaps the most controversial game as the officials awarded the Thunder the ball late in the game when it appeared that it should have been given to the Clippers.
Whether it was the right call or not, the Thunder took the game 105-104, and then beat the Clippers in game six 104-98 to secure a Conference Finals berth.
In the Western Conference Finals, they were pitted against one of the oldest and most experienced teams in the league, the San Antonio Spurs.
The Thunder were doomed when they heard of the news that their star forward Ibaka was to miss the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury.
Without their pivotal big man, the Thunder were routed by the Spurs in games one and two, losing 122-105, and then 112-77.
When all hope seemed lost for the Thunder, the team doctors unexpectedly cleared Ibaka to play for the series as the swelling in his calf had miraculously decreased.
With Ibaka in the lineup and a fiery home crowd, Oklahoma City stole back games three and four with scores of 106-97 and 105-92.
Ibaka provided a lift for the Thunder, but it was not enough to beat the Spurs in San Antonio. They lost the game 117-89 and had their backs against the wall.
With their season on the line, the teams headed to Oklahoma City for a crucial and thrilling game six that went into overtime. In overtime, the Spurs used their experience to overpower a young Thunder team and won the game 112-107.
Freshman Andrew Bruno said, “They had a great year, and even though they lost, I think they’re going to come back next year even hungrier.”
The Spurs will now head to the NBA Finals to play the Miami Heat in what will be a rematch of last year’s Finals where Miami won 4-3.
The Thunder had an unbelievable season and although they fell just short of their goals of winning an NBA championship, they are proud to have come this far and will work to come back next year.