Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 9:05 AM
The record states that the Oklahoma City Thunder last night became the 15th team in NBA history to overcome a two games-to-none deficit to win a playoff series ... but that hardly tells the whole story!
The fact of the matter is Okie City's four consecutive NBA Western Conference Finals wins against the San Antonio Spurs (and remember the Spurs were a solid 2-to-1 betting favorite to cop this series) in this post-season round will go down in league lore as one of the great accomplishments and, as San Ant head coach Gregg Popovich pointed out in the post-game presser, now the Thunder has beaten three NBA Western Conference teams that have accounted for 10 championships in the past 13 years (see Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio).
If that daunting 63-48 halftime deficit last night had the Thunder down in the mouth, it sure didn't show it as Scott Brooks' club burst out of the second-half starting gate and really grabbed this Game 6 by the throat and hope you noticed that while Kevin Durant (game-high 34 points) was simply magnificent (but can he wait till the game ends to hug his mom!) the Thunder won this one thanks in large part to superior interior passing, ultra-clutch three-ball shooting in the final quarter by key reserve Derek Fisher and James Harden and stepped-up defense or didn't you notice that the "worn-down" Spurs registered only 36 points after the intermission break?
Sure, afterwards everyone and his brother were saying that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginoboli- a Spurs trio that combined for 64 points in Game 6 (although Ginobili was missing-in-action with just 10 points, 1 assists and 5 fouls)- showed their age but Parker made some key driving hoops late and Duncan was nimble with some key fourth-quarter buckets:
Maybe it wasn't that the tire tread wore down as much as Okie City won this tilt with sheer will and great basketball IQ.
Now, the Thunder sits tight and awaits the Eastern Conference winner between Miami and Boston knowing full well the extra rest, the home court advantage for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 and having Durant playing at his highest possible level will have Oklahoma City a pretty substantial favorite for the NBA Finals that'll begin within the week.
What did Okie City prove first-and-foremost with this just-completed series win? In a series of comebacks, the Thunder showed it has plenty of offensive firepower and so no opponent's lead is ever too big ... might that be a bad omen for either the Celtics or the Heat next week?
Go ahead and enjoy some party time, Thunder!
Here's how the Thunder-Spurs best-of-seven NBA Western Conference Finals went in game-by-game spread fashion:
|5-27||SAN ANTONIO||- 5.5||Oklahoma City||SAN ANTONIO 101-98|
|5-29||SAN ANTONIO||- 4.5||Oklahoma City||SAN ANTONIO 120-111|
|5-31||OKLAHOMA CITY||- 4.5||San Antonio||OKLAHOMA CITY 102-82|
|6-2||OKLAHOMA CITY||- 3.5||San Antonio||OKLAHOMA CITY 109-103|
|6-4||SAN ANTONIO||- 5||Oklahoma City||Oklahoma City 108-103|
|6-6||OKLAHOMA CITY||- 5||San Antonio||OKLAHOMA CITY 107-99|
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#2 MIAMI at #4 BOSTON - Celtics lead series 3-2; Game 6 is tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET
Maybe the Miami Heat finally got what it's truly been after in this 2011-12 campaign:
And that is a reason to believe that it is an us-against-the-world feel right here and right now in this Eastern Conference Finals set.
The Heat- losers of three in a row in this series (and note Miami was the-550-to-$100 betting favorite to win prior to the start of this series)- may finally have a reason to band together as one for this tilt in Boston but here's three items the Heat must address for this elimination game:
First off, Miami cannot allow the Celtics any major scoring runs here. Note that Boston enjoyed three different major scoring spurts in that 94-90 triumph in Game 5 including a 15-1 run that ended the third quarter and a nifty 22-12 run that ended the game and now- with a boisterous Celtics crowd jamming the rafters- the Heat cannot let any Boston scoring "binges" beat them here.
Memo to under-attack Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra: Don't worry about saving time outs till late in this game, use 'em when you most need 'em here!
Next, the Heat must welcome a faster-paced game here and so fast break points are key:
In the Game 5 loss the other night, Miami scored only 8 fast-break points and that's not good enough when you consider LeBron James (30 points in Game 5) and Dwyane Wade (27 points) want/need to get out and go even if they somehow "plays into" the hands of Celtics' superstar PG Rajon Rondo (just 3-of-15 FG shooting for 7 points two nights ago).
Look for the aforementioned Spoelstra to insert an extra rebounder into the lineup for major minutes here (is that where Chris Bosh comes in after his 7-rebound showing off the bench this past Tuesday night?) and so with Bosh and Udonis Haslem (14 boards in Game 5) on the floor at the same time with James and Wade you can look for more "run-outs" by the visiting Heat. Yes, we know the Heat was a minus 12 points when Bosh was on the floor but Miami needs boards, right?
Finally, James has to want the ball in the fourth quarter. Did you know he went some eight minutes in the final frame without scoring a hoop in Game 5? Simply can't have that from the three-time league MVP.
Here's how the Heat-Celtics playoff series has gone so far while heading into tonight's Game 6 (note that all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-28||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||MIAMI 93-79|
|5-30||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||MIAMI 115-111(ot)|
|6-1||BOSTON||- 2.5||MIAMI||BOSTON 101-91|
|6-3||Miami||- 2||BOSTON||BOSTON 93-91|
|6-5||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||Boston 94-90|
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to bash Las Vegas with this year's NBA Playoffs and there's lost more Side & Totals Hoop Winners straight ahead this 2012 post-season plus get all the Major-League Baseball Winners too - so go ahead and sign up today and get it all as that's NBA and MLB winnin' action every day! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.
NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD STANDINGS
(thru Wednesday, June 6)
Here's the pointspread breakdown this playoff campaign for the NBA'S Eastern/Western Conference finalists:
NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage plus MLB Interleague action in the next Jim Sez as we preview some of the weekend's key series including the New York Mets at the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays at the Miami Marlins and Texas Rangers at the San Francisco Giants.