The Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-98 in Game 6 to advance to the Western Conference finals.
We’ve Seen This Story Before
Starting the game off the Clippers came out strong and the Thunder came out flat. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant couldn’t throw a rock into the Pacific Ocean as the duo shot 1-of-11 in the opening quarter while the Clippers looked to be on the cusp of a blowout, outscoring the Thunder 30-16. This is how Game 5 started and similar to that game, this time without the theatrics from the referees, the Clippers blew it. Through the following three quarters, the Thunder outscored the Clippers 88-68.
A Tale of Two Halves
MVP gonna MVP. More specifically, when it mattered most the MVP put the team on his back and capitalized on the Clippers shortcomings.
First Half: 4-12 FG, 3-5 3P, 3-3 FT, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 14 points, -8 plus-minus
Second Half: 8-11 FG, 2-3 3P, 7-7 FT, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 25 points, +14 plus-minus
When Durant plays like he did in the second half, he’s as good as anyone in the NBA and the Clippers had no answer for him. The rest of the team followed in Durant’s path and the rest was all she wrote.
“A Tribe Called Stench”
The Sixth Man of the Year couldn’t save this unit. They stunk. Glen Davis and Darren Collison had a few moments in the first half, but outside of that, the group that was a huge cog in the team’s success was invisible when the team needed them most. In 40 combined minutes, Jamal Crawford, Danny Granger, Davis, and Collison finished with 17 combined points on 8-of-21 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and a combined plus-minus of -16. In comparison, the Thunder received hefty contributions from Reggie Jackson (14 pts, 3 asts), Steven Adams (10 pts, 11 rebs), and Nick Collison (4 pts, 16 plus-minutes). In a six point game, that’s the difference between advancing to the Western Conference finals and preparing for the offseason.
This Isn’t On Sterling
The narrative machine is out and some aren’t afraid to draw dumbfounded conclusions from it. The Clippers didn’t lose this series because of the Donald Sterling scandal. That excuse would have been viable had they lost in the opening round against a lesser Golden State Warriors teams, but it doesn’t apply here. The better team won. It’s not as foreign a concept as people love to make it, ignoring context and falling for the most deplorable meme available, but that’s the case here and it was the number one issue coming into the series. No one said it better than Chris Paul.
“To tell you the truth, we don’t think about that,” said the Clippers star point guard. “The least of our worries is [Sterling]. We just lost the damn series. I’m sorry, but we don’t care about that. That’s the last thing on our minds. We give him too much attention as it is.”
And that’s the truth.
Player of the Game
This one is easy. 39 points. 12-of-23 from the field. 5-of-8 from behind the arc. 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. 16 rebounds. 5 assists. 2 blocks. #MVP.
The Donald Sterling summer-saga begins.