They blew it. There’s no other way to put it. Holding a 3-1 vice grip on the Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder dropped an eight-point lead heading into the final frame of Game 6, effectively throwing away their best and last shot at bringing a title to their city.
Bone-headed turnovers, terrible shot selection, hero ball and infamous fourth quarter woes, everything that made the Thunder second-tier to the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs during the regular season, came back to grab them by their throats in the closing minutes of Game 6.
Klay Thompson didn’t just put the team on his back, he fastened them to the roof of his car and sped off en route to an all-time great performance on Oklahoma City’s home court.
Presuming an inevitable Game 7 loss in Oakland, this may be the end of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant as we know them.
Durant loves Oklahoma City. He’s never kept that a secret. However, the Western Conference is only getting tougher for a dynamic duo that seemingly can’t play cohesively enough for long enough to get over the final hump.
Bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Oklahoma City is proving to be an unscalable mountain for the Westbrook/Durant project.
However, Billy Donovan’s gone a long way in alleviating many of those problems.
By staggering Westbrook and Durant’s minutes so one of them is on the court at all times and implementing new lineups former head coach Scott Brooks never utilized, Donovan has the franchise headed in a new and exciting direction, but maybe that won’t prove enticing enough for Durant, who has an oft-successful Spurs franchise, an up-and-coming Boston Celtics team spearheaded by a young and talented Brad Stevens, and his hometown Washington Wizards led by former coach and close friend Scott Brooks, all in search of his elite services.
This Game 7 has more hanging in the balance than just who proceeds to the NBA Finals to face the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers.The outcome of this game could quite possibly dictate the future of a franchise.
As for the Golden State Warriors, there’s an air of confidence about them again. The swagger, the feeling of certainty they’ll be back-to-back champions is palpable again.
After Draymond Green lost himself in the clamor surrounding his kick and the Splash Brothers were mired in shooting woes of their own, they didn’t just beat the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena; they ripped their hearts out with a thrilling finish all too synonymous with Warriors basketball.
Stephen Curry (31 points, nine assists) and Klay Thompson (41 points with 11 three-pointers) looked like the brothers of old in Game 6 and Green was back doing what he does best, stat-stuffing, with Steve Kerr’s tactical shift in playing Andrew Bogut more helping to neutralize the effectiveness of Donovan’s new small ball look, which featured Durant and Serge Ibaka manning the squad’s front court.
At Oracle Arena tonight, look for an atmosphere for the ages, bathed in gold and expecting the brand of Warriors basketball that carried their team to an incredible 39-2 record at home.
Warriors fans aren’t used to seeing their team suffer defeat on that brightly-colored Oracle hardwood, and they won’t see it tonight either. A 2015 NBA Finals re-match is in the works tonight and for an undoubtedly discouraged Thunder team, their Game 7 isn’t tonight.
It begins in the early hours of July 1, when Kevin Durant holds the future of his franchise in the palm of his hands.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports