If it is true, that an NBA series does not truly get started until a team wins a contest on their opponents floor; then the Western Conference Finals officially got underway on Monday night. The Oklahoma City Thunder could clinch the Western Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night, after winning their third straight game Monday night beating the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center 108-106.
The visitors would hold the advantage at the completion of both the first and second periods; San Antonio would grab the upper hand in the third quarter and go ahead by as many as six points, until Oklahoma City took back the lead and finished the period on top, 81-72.The home team threatened in the fourth, cutting their deficit to just two-points, but the Thunder would hold on for the victory.
Kevin Durant paced the Thunder with 27 points while Russell Westbrook racked up a double-double for the night including 23 points and James Harden came off the bench with 20 points in the victory. Veteran Manu Ginobili, back in the starting lineup for the Spurs knocked down a game high 34 points while Tony Parker added 20 points, Tim Duncan notched a double-double with 18 points and Stephen Jackson came off the pine with 16 points in the loss.
This would be the first appearance at the Big Dance for the Thunder, since they relocated to Oklahoma City four years ago; although they won an NBA Championship as the Seattle Supersonics. The team has yet to lose in their home arena since the Playoffs began and San Antonio might just be ripe for the picking; after blowing a 2-0 lead in the match-up, losing three straight contests and giving up home-court advantage Monday night.
This series has been a battle between a team with experience, that has already been to the mountain top and a squad that is filled with young, talented, athletic players. San Antonio had won their first 20 contests of the Post Season, but once their opponents snapped that streak last Thursday night, they have not been able to get back into the win column. It is starting to appear that the older legs of the Spurs stars are not able to prosper as the games are every other day in this round.
San Antonio will have their back to the wall on Wednesday night, as they head to Oklahoma City for game six with their opponents now holding a 3-2 edge in the series. The Thunder do not want this match-up heading back to San Antonio, as it would be a huge task to win two games in their opponents house and they most likely will come out of the gates with extra motivation.