In more ways than one, this year felt like all the other championship years for San Antonio. They had all the momentum, got the right pieces, and had four different players with championship experience. The Spurs had won twenty straight games from the regular season into the playoffs and took a decided 2-0 advantage against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. In the span of eighty-three days, the Spurs lost only four games, but in the past seven days, they’ve lost four consecutive games in a row. And now they're going fishing.
Move over San Antonio. There’s a new kid on the block.
One of the youngest teams in the league is growing up right before our eyes; in what could be the birth of a new dynasty. Their story even had Pop saying, “It's almost a Hollywood script for OKC. I don't know if anybody has ever gone through a playoff playing those kinds of teams." The last three teams that the Thunder have beaten are not only playoff teams, but they’re former NBA champions. The Thunder convincingly beat last year’s champions, the Dallas Mavericks. Then they beat Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. And the latest Goliath to fall down were the San Antonio Spurs.
After the loss, Tim Duncan said, “I thought this was definitely our time, our time to get back to the Finals, our time to push for another championship.” But the Thunder had other plans.
After being down 15 points at halftime, the Thunder rallied back in the 2nd half by outscoring San Antonio 32-18 in the 3rd quarter.
Coach Scott Brooks said, "I was not going to take him (Durant) out. I don't care how many times he looked at me fatigued. He has enough, and I think all of our guys have enough to play. You just have to fight through it."
The decision paid dividends as Durant finished the game with 34 points and 14 rebounds. Although, Durant is only twenty-three years of age, the budding star carries himself like a veteran already. In many ways, he is what Tim Duncan was fifteen years ago, a quiet leader who leads by example. Asked what it was like to play with the three time scoring champ, teammate Thabo Sefolosha said, "It’s beautiful to play with a guy like this and to see the crowd and everybody cheering for him; it’s great.”
As the window of opportunity now closes for the Big Fundamental at 36 years of age, the future is looking mighty bright for the 23 year old Kevin Durant. Could we finally be seeing the end of the Spurs Dynasty and the rising of a new one in Oklahoma City?
We'll have to see what Boston and Miami think about that.