Sunday, June 1, 2014
Spurs advance to NBA Finals
By ESPN Stats & Information
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)Game 6 was different than any other contest in the 2014 Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. After the first five games were decided by an average margin of 20.4 points per game, Game 6 was decided in overtime. After 23 lead changes and ties over the first five games, Game 6 featured 31 lead changes and ties. And that was just the beginning.
Gregg Popovich (left) and Tim Duncan (right) advanced to the NBA Finals for the sixth time.
Spurs share the ball well, Thunder do not
The Spurs won the game by sharing the basketball, while the Thunder got 95 percent of their points from four players: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka. Only five players scored for the Thunder in Game 6, and those players attempted 78 of the team's 82 field goals. All 11 players who logged time for the Spurs in Game 6 shot the ball, and all but one scored.
San Antonio scored 51 bench points compared to just 5 for Oklahoma City, with the 46-point bench differential setting the mark for the largest in any game this season (regular season and playoffs).
A breakdown of each team’s half-court offense illustrates the offensive contrast. The Spurs had 288 passes on 105 half-court plays, while the Thunder had 137 on 100 half-court plays. One one hand, the 1.4 passes per play for the Thunder in Game 6 was their lowest of the series. On the other hand, the 2.7 passes per play for the Spurs was just above their average (2.5). Oklahoma City had 62 plays with one or fewer passes, while San Antonio had 31.
Thunder duo still dynamic
Lost in the shadow of defeat was a tremendous scoring effort from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both scored at least 30 points in the same game for the eighth time in their postseason careers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that surpasses Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal for the second-most such games by a pair of teammates in NBA playoff history.
Westbrook had another stellar game in his own right. For the second time this postseason, Westbrook posted at least 30 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in the same game, joining Michael Jordan as the only players with multiple 30-5-5-5 games in a single postseason. Jordan did so twice, in both 1989 (4) and 1990 (3).
Spurs reach NBA Finals
For the first time in franchise history, the Spurs will make back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals. This marks the sixth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, all of which have come in the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich era.
Lurking in the NBA Finals are familiar foes in the Miami Heat, who defeated the Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals in seven games. This marks the first NBA Finals rematch since the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz met in consecutive Finals in 1997 and 1998.
San Antonio displayed great resilience, becoming the first team since 1988-89 Pistons to make it back to the NBA Finals after losing a Game 7 in the Finals the prior year. Spurs fans are hoping they emulate the success of the Bad Boys, as the Pistons won the 1989 Finals after suffering that Game 7 defeat in 1988.