The NBA playoffs have made the Oklahoma City Thunder second fiddle so far. The Thunder had to play the second round against the biggest story of the NBA playoffs -- for one reason or another -- while two of their old rivals rolled through to the conference finals. But the Thunder will have their chance to dethrone the San Antonio Spurs and perhaps the Miami Heat as well, after finally ending the Los Angeles Clippers' chaotic playoff run on May 15.
The Thunder's 104-98 victory was yet another come from behind affair, albeit not to the extent of the comebacks in Games 4 and 5. Nevertheless, Oklahoma City was down for all a few seconds in the first three quarters, until seizing control from Los Angeles in the fourth.
The Clippers controlled the pace and held an early double digit lead, as the aftermath of their stunning Game 5 collapse didn't carry over right away. Yet the Thunder stayed within range, survived an early drought from Russell Westbrook and let Kevin Durant carry them until it was time to pull ahead.
Los Angeles gave up the lead at the start of the fourth quarter and never caught up again, as Westbrook had 17 second half points and Durant finished with 39 for the night. Back-to-back offensive fouls in the middle of the fourth quarter went against the Clippers at one point, although it was hardly as controversial as the calls that went against them in Game 5.
That Game 5 may change the entire direction of the NBA playoffs, should the Thunder go any further. It may also change the trajectory of the Clippers' franchise, in case this turns out to be their last, best shot as currently constructed. If Donald Sterling isn't finally forced out by the end of the summer, it might very well be.
But it is Oklahoma City who is in the final four of the NBA playoffs for the third time in four years. The last time the Thunder got this far in 2012, they were a No. 2 seed that upset the top seeded Spurs before losing to the Heat. So far, history is in line to repeat itself to the letter -- but can the Thunder forge a different end result?