Oklahoma City • The San Antonio Spurs have seen this nightmare before.
In 2012, the Spurs won the first two games of the Western Conference finals against the Thunder, then lost four straight and were bounced out of the playoffs. This season, the Spurs were cruising in the West finals, winning two blowouts against Oklahoma City before Thunder defensive wiz Serge Ibaka unexpectedly came back from a left calf strain. With renewed confidence and energy, Oklahoma City’s youngsters rolled past their veteran counterparts in Game 3, and the reminders started coming.
Indiana 93, Miami 90
Heat lead series 3-2
» San Antonio at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m., TNT
Series tied 2-2
The Thunder dominated Game 4 to tie the series, and now, the Spurs again face a most uncomfortable scenario. They host Game 5 on Thursday in danger of falling behind 3-2. If they lose, they’ll travel to Oklahoma City on Saturday facing elimination.
Just like in 2012.
"Reminding people about what happened in the past helps in some way, but we have to go out there and execute and do things," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said.
The Thunder also have tried to distance themselves from their rare comeback, though they said it helped them remain hopeful when they were down 0-2.
"We can’t think about the past," forward Kevin Durant said. "We have to focus on right now. This team (San Antonio) is well-coached and has a great group of guys. They’ll make it tough. We have to worry about getting better and having our focus and energy on every single play."
Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and the rest of the Spurs must match the intensity of their youthful opponents. Russell Westbrook, just 25, was all over the place in his 40-point, 10-assist, five-steal effort in Game 4.
"It doesn’t matter what we do tactically if we don’t up that determination, that attitude, that persistent, aggressive, ugly, hard-nosed attitude and I think that was embodied in them in Russell Westbrook," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
Oklahoma City looks like a new team. The Thunder lost the first two games by a combined 52 points. Now, the Thunder appear to have things figured out.
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