Thunder through to face Warriors in Western Conference final
Oklahoma City Thunder beat San Antonio Spurs 113-99 on Thursday to win the NBA Western Conference semi-final series 4-2.
Kevin Durant scored 37 points, with Russell Westbrook adding 28 as Thunder set up a mouth-watering Conference final against the Golden State Warriors.
After losing 124-92 to the Spurs in Game 1, Thunder bounced back in style in win four of the next five.
Westbrook believes the defeat was the wake-up call the team needed.
“We had that game, and we left it behind us,” he said. “We came out after that and had a different mindset.
“We knew what we had to do to win the series. They’re a great team. They’ve been winning for 10-plus years, same pace. I’m just proud of our guys.”
Thunder dominated the first half, racing into a 55-31 lead. They kept up the pressure in the third quarter and led 91-65 at the next break.
Spurs rallied in the final session, but could get no closer than 11 points as the Thunder comfortably closed out the game.
Elsewhere, attention switches to the Eastern Conference on Friday, with the Miami Heat looking to take their series against the Toronto Raptors to Game 7.
Raptors’ 99-91 victory on Wednesday gave them a 3-2 lead in the battle to face Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern final.
The Heat struggled during the early stages of Game 5, but rallied during the second half before eventually falling just short.
“We’ve gotta stay positive,” Tyler Johnson said. “If we eliminate that slow start, we have a good chance at winning. We’ve gotta learn from it. If we win at home, after that it’s anybodyís game.”
If the Heat can overcome the Raptors they would become the first in NBA history to overcome two 3-2 deficits in the same post-season after winning Games 6 and 7 to defeat the Charlotte Hornets in the previous round.
“We’ve been in a lot of tough positions this season, but recently we have been in this exact position,” Gerald Green said.
“We’ve done this. We feel we can get it back to Toronto, and then in Game 7 anything can happen.”
While the Eastern final line-up is yet to be decided, Steph Curry and the Warriors are enjoying some much needed rest ahead of Monday’s opening Western Conference final game against the Thunder.
The reigning champions eased past Portland Trail Blazers in the last round and with Curry now fully recovered from knee and ankle injuries, head coach Steve Kerr is confident his team can successfully defend their title.
“Anytime you win a series, you’re just relieved and then you move on and at that point you have a brand new set of challenges,” said Kerr.
“So this was a great series and I’m happy we pulled through. Now we’ll get a little rest and see what happens on the other side of the bracket.”
Having won six of their previous seven meetings with the Thunder, it would be a major surprise if the Warriors failed to earn a crack at winning a second successive NBA championship.