We are just hours away from one of the biggest games in Oklahoma City Thunder’s short eight year history. Since moving to Oklahoma City, the Thunder have only been in this position one other time, where they went to the NBA Finals back in 2012, but eventually lost to the Miami Heat.
Since the last time the Thunder were in the Finals, they have had major ups and even greater downs. In 2013, Russell Westbrook went down with a torn meniscus that ended his season, and eventually the Thunder’s in the second round. In 2014, the Thunder returned to the Conference Finals, but were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs, with Serge Ibaka missing the first two games of the series. Finally, in 2015, the Thunder missed the NBA playoffs all together with Kevin Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, and numerous other players missing extended periods of time throughout the season.
So, that brings us to this point. Game seven in the Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. This is the first time the Thunder have been fully healthy in the playoffs since their first Finals berth back in 2012. Although the Thunder are in a game seven Monday night, most NBA fans would not think it would have went this far had you asked them just a mere five days ago. The Thunder held a 3-1 series lead on the Warriors, and seemed to all but have the series in the bag. That was until the Thunder had an epic debacle in the final minutes of Saturday night’s game six in OKC. The Thunder were winning for most of the game, until turnovers from both Durant and Westbrook ultimately costed the Thunder a win, and possibly the series.
With the series now tied and the momentum in Golden States favor, the Thunder must come out firing on all cylinder and get EVERYONE involved if they want a date with LeBron James and the Cavaliers come June 2nd. The past two games, Durant has not shot the ball like he normally does. Durant needs to come out of that locker room Monday night and play Kevin Durant basketball. We have not seen what the real Durant can be like these last two games.
One thing that Durant re-iterated to the media multiple times on Sunday, was the Thunder must come out and not feel sorry for themselves, they know they blew the win, but this can give them motivation. One of his more memorable quotes on Sunday compared game seven to a funeral:
Kevin Durant on the Thunder's mood today pic.twitter.com/663vTxT8y9
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 29, 2016
One blaring stat that Kevin Durant accomplished on Saturday was not a good one. He definitely was not on his game, and this stat shows that:
Durant is the first player in more than 30 years to score fewer than 30 points on more than 30 FG attempts in the Western Conference Finals
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) May 29, 2016
But, on the bright side, Kevin Durant cannot play any worse than what he did on Saturday night. I just do not think that is possible from the former MVP. If Durant, Westbrook and the Thunder want to win Monday night, they need to come out and play like they did in games three and four. Get EVERYONE involved.
Not only is this one of the biggest games in Durant’s career, it will also have a legacy effect on his career. If Durant comes out sluggish again and cannot hit shots and the Thunder lose, his legacy may take a hit that will never be lived down. Not only would his legacy take a shot, so would Westbrook’s. As two of the best players in the league, they cannot take a 3-1 series lead, choke it away, and not deal with repercussions. But, if the Thunder do win, Durant and Westbrook need to win the Finals against LeBron to solidify their spot in NBA history.
On the other side of the ball, legacies will also be effected, negatively or positively. If the Warriors win, Curry and Thompson’s legacies will take a great leap. One of the only few teams to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. But, if the Warriors lose, this could ultimately end the short reign of the Warriors and begin a Thunder dynasty.
Game seven will be one for the record books. Hopefully the Thunder can come out and win this game, but if they choke away this series, major question marks will be coming to not only the franchise of OKC, but for Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant not only needs to win for himself and the fans of Oklahoma City, he needs to win this game to preserve his legacy or an era may be ending sooner rather than later in Oklahoma City.