The NBA playoffs have become a quest of redemption for the San Antonio Spurs. For starters, the Spurs faced the team that broke its heart in the NBA playoffs two years ago, and seemed poised to do it the same way this year. But instead of losing Games 5 and 6 of the Western Conference finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder after blowing a 2-0 series lead, the Spurs defied history - and can defy it again in the finals against another old foe.
The Spurs reached another final with the Miami Heat by holding off the Thunder in Game 6 on May 31. They had to endure overtime and the loss of Tony Parker to do it, but their 112-107 win was a far cry from the Game 6 loss in Oklahoma City that ended the 2012 conference finals.
Once Parker was ruled out at halftime with a sore ankle, it looked like the Thunder would pull away in the second half, like the home team has in every game of this series. Instead, the Spurs dug deep and outscored the Thunder by 37-20 in the third, thanks to their bench. With Boris Diaw contributing 26 points in Parker's place, San Antonio had a 51-5 bench advantage while Oklahoma City needed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to carry it again.
It was almost enough, however, as the Thunder rallied to make Game 6 the first thriller of the series -- and what felt like the first thriller of the entire NBA playoffs in weeks. A controversial non-goaltending call on a Serge Ibaka block, and a subsequent Durant basket, gave Oklahoma City a 99-97 lead late. However, Manu Ginobili made a three pointer and one free throw to give the Spurs the lead, yet Westbrook's two free throws afterwards forced overtime.
In overtime, the Thunder went cold and hit only one field goal. When the Spurs went up by 108-107, Kawhi Leonard blocked and stole a Westbrook shot, leading to Tim Duncan capping off a hot second half with a field goal. Once Durant and Westbrook missed consecutive three pointers, the Spurs sealed their sixth conference title of the Duncan era from the line.