Oklahoma City Thunder
2008/09: Following Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Hornets needed a temporary home, while New Orleans recovered, Oklahoma City was chosen, as they had recently built a new arena, the Ford Center. For two seasons, the Hornets played a majority of their games in Oklahoma City. The year they returned full time to New Orleans, coincided with the continued arena troubles of the Seattle Supersonics, who were purchased by Oklahoma City Businessman Clay Bennett with the ultimate goal of moving the team. When Seattle did not agree to build a new arena, Bennett used it as an excuse to move the team to Oklahoma City. After a short legal battle, Bennett settled with the city of Seattle, leaving behind the old name and colors for a new team to use someday while bringing Oklahoma City a team of their own, a team called the Thunder. The Thunder played their first game on October 29th, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Ford Center 98-87. After a road loss to the Houston Rockets, the Thunder earned their first win by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 88-85. However, in the early going wins would be rare as the Thunder dropped their next ten games before Coach P.J. Carlesimo was fired on November 22nd. Under new Coach Scott Brooks, the Thunder would not do much better, as their losing streak reached 14 games before they earned their second win with a 111-103 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. The Thunder would continue to struggle in December, losing 13 of their next 14 games as they held a 3-29 record before beating the Golden State Warriors 107-100 on New Year’s Eve. As the calendar changed, the Thunder started to play better, posting a 7-7 record in January. The Thunder would go on to finish in last place in the Northwest Division with a 23-59 record. Despite the poor record, Kevin Durant finished among the league leaders in scoring at 25.3 ppg.
2009/10: In their second year in Oklahoma City, the Thunder showed improvement right from the start of the season, as they started the season with two straight wins. Despite losing three of their next four games, the Thunder closed November with a winning record of 9-8. Thanks to a five-game winning streak at the end of December, the Thunder continued to play winning basketball as the New Year began, holding a record of 18-14, as they surpassed their previous season’s win total on January 11th. Driving the Thunder improvement was Kevin Durant, who arrived among the NBA’s elite players by leading the league in scoring at 30.1 ppg. At the age of 21, Durant would be the youngest player in NBA history to win the league’s scoring title. Continuing their solid basketball, the Thunder would roll in February, winning nine straight games, as they entered March with a 35-23 record. The Thunder would clinch a winning season on March 19th and would go on to qualify for the playoffs with a record of 50-32, as Scott Brooks was named Coach of the Year. Despite winning 50 games, the Thunder would enter the playoffs as the eighth seed and would face the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. After an 87-79 loss in the opener, the Thunder threw a scare into the Lakers in Game 2, leading at halftime, and in the 4th quarter, before a strong finish from Kobe Bryant gave the Lakers in a 95-92. In Game 3, the Ford Center was all abuzz for the first NBA Playoff game in Oklahoma City. With Kevin Durant scoring 29 points with 19 rebounds, the Thunder would earn their first playoff win 101-96. Two nights later, the Thunder would roll again, winning 110-89 as Russell Westbrook had a big night with 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. With the series even at two games, apiece the Lakers regained control thanks to a return to Staples Center, winning 111-87 in Game 5, as Pau Gasol had a double-double. Looking to a force a seventh game, the Thunder again put forth a strong effort at home, leading 94-93 in the final seconds. However, Gasol tipped in a missed jump shot from Kobe Bryant with 0.5 seconds left to give the Lakers a 95-94 win to take the series in six games.
2010/11: After getting into the playoffs and playing well against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Thunder entered their third season in Oklahoma City, hoping to become a legitimate contender. After splitting their first six games, the Thunder started to show just how good they could be as they won seven of their next eight games. The Thunder would continue to play well through the end of December, as they held a 23-11 at the end of 2010 while facing one of the toughest schedules in the NBA. The Thunder would hit a tough stretch in January, as they posted a 7-6 record. At the trade deadline, the Thunder pulled off one of the biggest deals in the NBA, as they sent Forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic, along with a 2012 draft pick acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Boston Celtics for center Kendrick Perkins and PG Nate Robinson. After the deal, the Thunder struggled with a three-game losing streak to close February with a record of 36-22. However, in March, the Thunder would roll, winning 14 of 16 games. The Thunder would go on to finish the season with a record of 55-27 winning the Northwest Division. With an 82.3% Free Throw percentage, the Thunder had one of the best seasons from the stripe in NBA history. While Kevin Durant did not capture the scoring title, his 27.7 ppg led the way for OKC. In the playoffs, the Thunder would face the Denver Nuggets in the first round. It would be the Kevin Durant show in the opener, as the Thunder All-Star scored 41 points, while Russell Westbrook added 31 in a 107-103 win. After the Thunder scored an easy 106-89 win in Game 2, the series shifted to Denver, where Serge Ibaka became the Thunder’s big man on the board with 22 points 16 rebounds to lead the way in a 97-94. After the Nuggets blocked the sweep with a 104-101 win in Game 4, the Thunder again got a 41 point game from Kevin Durant as the Thunder knocked off the Nuggets in five games, winning 100-97 in Game 5. Also, have a big game in the clincher was Serge Ibaka, who had nine blocked shots, falling one short of the NBA postseason record. In the second round, the Thunder faced the Memphis Grizzlies, who were coming off a stunning upset of the San Antonio Spurs. In Game 1, the Thunder would suffer a 114-101 loss, as the Thunder had trouble dealing with the Grizzlies size. The Thunder would bounce back with a 111-102 win in Game 2, as Kevin Durant and James Harden both had big games. As the series shifted to Memphis, the Thunder saw a 16 point lead evaporate as the Grizzlies won in overtime 101-93. The series continued to see-saw back in forth in Game 4, as the Thunder won a triple-overtime thriller 133-123, as Russell Westbrook scored 40, while Kevin Durant scored 35 in a game that would become an instant classic. As the series returned to OKC, the Thunder took advantage of the worn-out Grizzlies and seized control of the series with a 99-72 win in Game 5. The Grizzlies would come back to win Game 6 in Memphis 95-83. It would come down to a seventh game at the Ford Center, where the Thunder got 39 points and nine boards from Durant to win 105-90 to reach the Western Conference Finals. In the Conference Finals, the Thunder faced the Dallas Mavericks, who were coming off a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. After a 121-112 loss in Game 1, the Thunder cooled off the Mavs, with a 106-100 win in Game 2. However, as the series shifted to OKC, the Thunder would have a letdown in Game 3, losing 93-87. Game 4 would be a must-win for the Thunder, and it would go to overtime as the Thunder lost a 15 point fourth-quarter lead. The Thunder would score just four points in OT as the Mavericks won 112-105 to take a 3-1 series lead. Despite a solid 31 point night from Russell Westbrook, the Mavericks would the Thunder’s season in five games as they took a 100-96 win in Game 5, on the way to an NBA Championship.
2011/12: Through the first three seasons, the Oklahoma City made giant strides each season, culminating with a trip to the Western Conference Finals. As they reached their fourth season, the Thunder looked to take another giant leap forward into the NBA Finals. With a lockout delaying the start of the season, the Thunder fans had to wait two extra months to see where they would go next. The season would start on Christmas Day, as the Thunder roared past the Orlando Magic, with Kevin Durant scoring 30 points. The Thunder would win their first five games, including a dramatic 104-102 win over the reigning NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. Despite losing their first two games in 2012, the Thunder continued their dominance in January as they won 11 of 15 games and established themselves as the team to beat in the West. The Thunder were especially dominant at home, as they rowdy crowds have Chesapeake Energy Arena an almost colligate feel. The Thunder would win 18 of their first 19 games in OKC, as they continued to reign in the West. However, as the season came to a close, the Thunder went into cruise control, posting an 8-7 record in April as they saved their energy for the playoffs, after the shortened regular season. Despite the mediocre final month, the Thunder still had the second-best record in the Western Conference at 47-19 as they won the Northwest Division for the second straight season. Kevin Durant continued to be one of the best players in the NBA, as he captured his third consecutive scoring title while averaging 28.0 ppg. Russell Westbrook joined Durant to form one of the best 1-2 punches in the NBA, averaging 23.1 ppg; additionally, the Thunder got a big season from James Harden, who averaged 16.8 ppg off the bench and was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. The Thunder were also solid defensively as Serge Ibaka was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team.
2012 Playoffs: In the playoffs, the Thunder would face the Dallas Mavericks who a year earlier beat them in the Western Conference Finals on the way to an NBA Championship. Right away, the Thunder learned the playoff would not be easy as the Mavericks gave them all they could handle in Game 1. However, Kevin Durant saved the day, giving the Thunder a 99-98 win, with a one-handed jumper in the final seconds. Game 2 would be just as tough, but the Thunder came through again at the end, winning 102-99. As the series shifted to Dallas, the Thunder finally found some breathing room, as they too a 3-0 series lead, behind a 95-79 win. The Thunder would go on to sweep the series with a 103-97 victory as they outscored the Mavericks 35-16 in the fourth quarter. The Thunder won with a sweep, but it was not easy as they advanced to face the Los Angels Lakers. Adding to the drama of the series against the Lakers was Metta World Peace, who had just served a seven-game suspension for a vicious foul against James Harden in the penultimate game of the regular season. The Thunder took their revenge out on the court as they clobbered the Lakers 119-90 in the series opener. Game 2 would be much closer, as both teams struggled to fund their offense. Down by seven points with two minutes left, the Thunder finished the game on a 9-0 run to win the game 77-75 to take a 2-0 series lead as Kevin Durant was money down the stretch. The Lakers would finally breakthrough in Game 3 as the series shifted to Los Angeles, winning 99-96. The Lakers looked poised to even the series as they held a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 4. However, the Thunder roared again, closing the game on a 25-9 run, as Kevin Durant intercepted a pass from Pau Gasol and hit a clutch three-pointer to give the Thunder a 103-100 victory to take a 3-1 series lead. The Thunder would go on to finish the series with a 108-90 win in Game 5 to return to the Western Conference Finals. In the Conference Finals, the Thunder would face the San Antonio Spurs, who had swept through the first two rounds after winning their last ten games to grab home-court away from the Thunder in the regular season. Much like their strong regular-season finish, the Spurs closed Game 1 on a big run, outscoring the Thunder 39-27 in the fourth quarter to win the opener 101-98. The Thunder would also capture Game 2, 120-111. Facing a must-win back in OKC, the Thunder got a significant team effort to win 102-82 in Game 3. The Thunder would even the series with a 109-103 win, as Kevin Durant scored 18 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter. In Game 5, the Thunder would grab a 13 point lead on a four-point play from James Harden. However, the Spurs would make an 11-0 run to get with a basket with under a minute left. Harden would answer with a backbreaking three-point shot as the Thunder took control of the series, with a 108-103 victory. Trailing by 15 points at halftime, the Thunder rallied to close the series in six games with a 107-99 victory.
2012 NBA Finals: The Oklahoma City Thunder would face the Miami Heat as the two top players in the NBA Kevin Durant, and LeBron James both sought their first championship ring. The opener would see the Thunder 1-2 punch of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook draw first blood, as Durant had a game-high 36 points while Westbrook scored 27 to lead OKC to a 105-94 victory. The Heat would rebound to even the series with a 91-85 win, handing the Thunder their first home loss during the playoffs. As the series shifted to Miami, the Thunder looked to be running out of steam, as James Harden their sparkplug off the bench had a terrible series, with the Heat winning 91-85 in Game 3. The Thunder never were able to regain their momentum, as the Heat won Game 4 and Game 5 to win the series in five games.
2012/13: Coming off their trip to the NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder continued to be the team to beat in the Western Conference. However, a contract dispute with James Harden would lead to the Thunder trading the NBA’s best sixth man to the Houston Rockets along with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward for G Kevin Martin, and Jeremy Lamb, along with two draft picks. The Thunder would start the season with an 86-84 loss to the San Antonio Spurs before beating the Portland Trail Blazers 106-92 in their home opener one night later. The Thunder got off to a strong start, winning 21 of their first 25 games, highlighted by a 12 game winning streak to assume the top spot in the Western Conference. The Thunder continued to roll in January, as Kevin Durant scored a career-high 52 points during a 117-114 overtime win against the Dallas Mavericks on January 18th. There would be few bumps along the way for the Thunder, who continued to improve on each previous season in their fifth season in OKC, as they had the best record in the West, posting a record of 60-22. Kevin Durant fell just short of winning a fourth straight scoring title, as with 28.1 ppg, while Russell Westbrook had another great season, with 23.2 ppg, 7.4 assists per game and a career-high 5.2 rebounds per game. Kevin Martin proved to be a suitable replacement for James Harden, scoring 17.0 ppg off the bench, while Serge Ibaka continued to become a solid force in the middle with a career-high 13.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
2013 Playoffs: As the playoffs began, the league focused on an NBA Finals rematch as the Thunder were the overwhelming favorite to win the Western Conference again. Facing the Houston Rockets led by James Harden, the Thunder dominated the opener, winning 120-91 as Kevin Durant scored 24 points to lead the way. Game 2 would be much closer as Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 29 points as the Thunder held off the Rockets 105-102 to take a 2-0 series lead. However, late in the game, Westbrook collided with Rockets guard Patrick Beverley and suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee. Russell Westbrook would need surgery and would miss the remainder of the postseason. As the series shifted to Houston, Kevin Durant delivered a big performance scoring 41 points with 14 boards as the Thunder took a 3-0 series leading, winning 104-101 in Game 3. However, the loss of Westbrook would take its toll as the Rockets took the next two games despite Durant topping 30 points in each game. The Thunder would win the series in six games, as they won the finale 103-94, but it was clear the team lacked the same punch without its star Point Guard. Facing the Memphis Grizzlies in round two, the Thunder needed a late rally to steal Game 1 at home 93-91 as they overcame a 12 point deficit in the fourth quarter with Kevin Durant leading the way with 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. However, despite Kevin Durant narrowly missing a Triple-Double with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists, the Grizzlies would even the series with a 99-93 win. The Grizzlies would also take the next two games in Memphis to take a 3-1 series lead. The Thunder would fall in five games, as the Grizzlies closed the series with an 88-84 win in Game 5.
2013/14: As the season began, the Thunder feared that Russell Westbrook would be out for the first half as he needed a second surgery to repair his injured knee. However, Westbrook defied the odds and returned early as the Thunder rolled early, winning 13 of their first 16 games. However, eventually, the knee proved too problematic, and Westbrook would undergo a third procedure following a Christmas Day triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and ten assists against the New York Knicks as OKC won the game 123-94 in the biggest Christmas blowout in NBA history. The Thunder would be without Westbrook for the next two months; in his absence Kevin Durant stepped up his game, averaging 35.9 points per game while scoring 30 or more points in 12 straight games, during January. The Thunder remained at or near the top of the Western Conference throughout the first half as they went into the All-Star Break with a record of 43-12. Following the All-Star Game, Russell Westbrook would return to the lineup but was used sparingly resting on back-to-back games while having his minutes cut back to enable him to get back to full strength. At first, the return of Russell Westbrook had a negative impact on the Thunder as they lost their first three games. Westbrook would begin to improve in March, as the Thunder won 10 of 14 games, but the Spurs amid a 19 game winning streak all but secured the top spot in the Western Conference. The Thunder, however, would post the second-best overall record in the NBA at 59-23. Kevin Durant would win his fourth scoring title with a career-best 32.0 ppg, along with 7.4 rebounds per game and a career-best 5.5 assists per game to earn his first NBA MVP.
2014 Playoffs: In the first round, the Thunder would face the Memphis Grizzlies, who continued to be a thorn in their side after eliminating them in the previous season. The Thunder got a big game in the opener from Kevin Durant, who scored 33 points in a 100-86 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. However, the Grizzlies would win Game 2 in overtime 111-105. The Thunder trailed all game and sent the game to overtime as Kevin Durant hit a three-point shot and was fouled, allowing for a rare four-point play. Game 3 in Memphis would be déjà vu as Russell Westbrook made a four-point play to send the game to overtime, capping a 17 point fourth-quarter rally. Once again, the Grizzlies would win in overtime 98-95. In Game 4, it would be the Grizzlies rallying to force overtime, overcoming a Thunder 14 point lead. After Memphis briefly took the lead in the final minutes, Reggie Jackson, who had a career-high 32 points, hit a three-point shot and a layup to even the score. In overtime, it would be the Thunder getting back in the series, with a 92-89 win. Returning home to OKC for Game 5, the Thunder overcame a 20 point deficit and found themselves in overtime again. Once again, the team who rallied would be the team who lost, as the Grizzlies won the game 100-99 as Serge Ibaka’s put back, which would have won the play was overturned on replay after it was clear he did not get it off before the buzzer. Needing a win on the road just to stay alive, the Thunder got a 36 point ten rebound game from Kevin Durant for a 104-84 victory. In the late stages of Game 6, the Thunder got a big break for Game 7, when the Grizzlies leading scorer Zack Randolph was suspended for punching Steven Adams while jogging back in transition. In Game 7, Durant would score 33 points, as Russell Westbrook had a triple-double with 27 points, ten boards, and 16 assists as the Thunder won 120-109 to advance to the second round. In the second round, the Thunder would face the Los Angeles Clippers who themselves were coming off an emotionally draining seven-game series in the first round. However, in Game 1, Chris Paul showed no ill-effect nailing eight three-point bombs to score 32 as the Clippers won the opener 122-105. The Thunder would bounce back with Kevin Durant scoring 32 points with 12 boards in a 112-101 win. As the series shifted to Los Angeles, Durant again was the man with 36 points to lead the way to a 118-112 win in Game 3. Despite a 40 point game Kevin Durant in Game 4, the Clippers would even the series with a 101-99 win, as the Clippers erased a 22 point lead by OKC. Trailing 104-103 in Game 5, the Thunder took advantage of a controversial out of bounds call and won the game 105-104 as Russell Westbrook sank two clutch free throws in the final seconds. The Thunder would go on to win the series in six games, as Kevin Durant scored 39 points with 16 boards as OKC won the finale 104-98. The Thunder would advance to the Western Conference Finals for the much-anticipated showdown with the San Antonio Spurs. The first two games were all Spurs, as they won the first two games, 122-105 and 112-77, dominating the floor in every way. As the series shifted to OKC, the Thunder struck back, winning Game 3 and 4 behind two big performances from Russell Westbrook, highlighted by 40 points in Game 4 to even the series with wins of 108-97and 105-92. Returning to San Antonio for Game 5, the home teams continued to dominate, with the Spurs winning 117-89 to put the Thunder on the brink. Russell Westbrook again would have a big game in Game 6, scoring a game-high 34 points as the game went to overtime tied 101-101, as the Thunder used an eight-point run in the final minutes to keep their hopes alive. However, it would be short-lived as the Spurs outscored the Thunder 11-6 to win the game 112-107 on the way to a fifth NBA Championship.
2014/15: Before the season even began, the Oklahoma City Thunder were being beset by injuries, as reigning MVP Kevin Durant was diagnosed with a Jones fracture in his right foot, missing the first 17 games. Making matters worse, the Thunder also lost Russell Westbrook to a broken hand suffered while scoring 38 points in a 106-89 season-opening loss on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers. Westbrook would miss the next 14 games, as the Thunder got off to a 3-12 start. Once Durant and Westbrook returned, the Thunder began to turn their season around, winning eight straight in December, as they reached .500 with a 109-102 win over the Washington Wizards on January 2nd. Kevin Durant, even upon returning, was not 100% as he played just 27 games before undergoing foot surgery in March. The Thunder finally broke over .500 in February, posting a record of 9-3. As Durant hobbled, Russell Westbrook excelled having the finest season of his career, highlighted by 41 points in the All-Star Game. Westbrook would be named MVP, coming within one point of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game record. The Thunder would lose Westbrook again in March, to a fractured cheekbone, but the Oklahoma City star returned after less than a week, and went on one of the best stretches of his career, recording four straight triple-doubles to keep the Thunder in the playoff race. Russell Westbrook would also climb to the top of NBA leaders in scoring, leading the league with 28.1 points per game, while also recording a career-best 8.6 assists per game, finishing fourth in MVP voting. Despite Russell Westbrook’s best efforts, the Thunder would miss the playoffs with a record of 45-37 as they lost a tiebreaker to the New Orleans Pelicans as a four-game losing streak in April sealed their fate. Following the season, the Thunder would part ways with Coach Scott Brooks. Had the Thunder been am Eastern Conference team, they would have been the sixth seed, making the postseason with room to spare.
2015/16: After a season of injury and frustration, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked to bounce back under new coach Billy Donovan. Kevin Durant was healthy and ready to go as the season began, but it was Russell Westbrook who led the way scoring 33 points with ten assists as the Thunder started the season with a 112-106 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Two nights later, Westbrook scored 48 as the Thunder outlasted the Orlando Magic 139-136 in double overtime on the road. OKC had their ups and downs in November as they won seven of ten at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, but losing four of six on the road. The Thunder would roll through December, posting a 12-3 record as they went into the New Year, leading the Northwest Division with a record of 23-10. The Thunder kept their pace in January, posting a record of 13-3, highlight by a seven-game winning streak. February represented the dog days for the Thunder, was they muddled along at 6-5. Coming out of the All-Star Break the Thunder had their biggest struggles, losing four of five, including home losses against the NBA Finals participants the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Things were trying off the court of the Thunder as well as Assistant Coach Monty Williams lost his wife on February 10th when she was involved in an automobile accident with an out of control car striking her head-on. Three weeks later, Aubrey McClendon, a part-owner, was killed in a single-car crash, leaving a courthouse after pleading not guilty to violating ant-trust laws. The Thunder continued their struggles in March, as they started the month by losing four of six games. However, as the finish line approached, the Thunder got back on track, winning eight straight, highlighted by a solid 111-92 home win over the Spurs on March 26th, with Russell Westbrook posting a Trible Double and Kevin Durant scoring a game-high 34 points. The Thunder would go on to finish third overall in the West, with a solid 55-27 record. Kevin Durant finished third in the league in scoring with 28.2 points per game, while Russell Westbrook ranked eighth overall with 23.5 ppg. Westbrook meanwhile averaged 10.4 assists per game, which was second highest in the NBA.
2016 NBA Playoffs: The Oklahoma City Thunder would face the Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. The Thunder dominated Game 1, taking a 26-11 lead in the first quarter on the way to winning 108-70 as Russell Westbrook led the way with 24 points and 11 assists. Game 2 would be a struggle, as the Thunder shot just 33.7% from the field. Down one in the final seconds, Steve Adams appeared to have the game with a put-back at the buzzer. However, replay determined he made the shot after the buzzer, as the Mavericks escaped with an 85-84 win to even the series. As the series shifted to Dallas, the Thunder made sure not to rely on the final moments to win the game, as the controlled the game throughout, winning 131-102 to regain control of the series with Kevin Durant scoring 34 points, and Russell Westbrook 15 assists leading the way. In Game 4, it was Enes Kanter leading the way with a game-high 28 points to give the Thunder a 119-108 win. Leading 3-1 with the series heading back to OKC Russell Westbrook narrowly missed a Triple Double, with a game-high 36 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists as the Thunder closed out the series with a 118-104 win in Game 5. The Thunder would face the San Antonio Spurs in the second round, with most fans anticipating the Spurs and Golden State Warriors meeting in an epic Western Conference Final showdown. After Game 1, there was little to doubt that the Spurs would advance as they dominated OKC with a 124-92 win after scoring 73 points in the first half. After being embarrassed in the opener, the Thunder gave the Spurs all they could handle in more in Game 2, winning 98-97 as Kevin Durant scored 28 points. The game featured one of the craziest final seconds in NBA history as Dion Waiters got away with elbowing Manu Ginobili on the inbound. However, after catching the inbound, Durant was stripped Danny Green, who passed it off to Patty Mills, who missed an open three, while LaMarcus Aldridge lost the ball, leading to a final scramble as time ran out, allowing OKC to hang on to the win. As the series shifted to Oklahoma City, the Thunder had no answers for Kawhi Leonard, who led the way with 31 points and 11 boards as the Spurs regained control of the series with a 100-96 win. Kevin Durant had the answers in Game 4, scoring 41 points as the Thunder once again evened the series with a 111-97 win. Returning to San Antonio for Game 5, the Thunder got a strong performance for Russell Westbrook, who had a game-high 35 as the Thunder stunned the Spurs 95-91 to take a 3-2 series lead. Narrowly missing a triple-double with 11 rebounds and nine assists, Westbrook was unstoppable down the stretch, sealing the game with a three-point play on a layup with 6.3 seconds left. With Kevin Durant scoring 37 points the Thunder would complete the upset over the Spurs with a 113-99 win in Game 6 to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the fourth time in six years. The Thunder continued their strong play in Game 1, stunning the Golden State Warriors 108-102, as they rallied from a 14-point deficit. After being held to three points in the first half, Russell Westbrook had a big second scoring 24 points, as he added 12 assists, seven steals, and six rebounds. Kevin Durant meanwhile made the big shot to put the game out of reach with a 17-foot jumper with 30.7 seconds left on the way to finishing with 26 points. After the Warriors bounced back with a 118-91 win in Game 2, the Thunder went to OKC looking to make a statement. Make a statement the Thunder certainly did in Game 3 as Kevin Durant scored 33, and Russell Westbrook had 30 points to lead OKC to an impressive 133-105 win to take control of the series. The Thunder continued to roll in Game 4, winning 118-94 to take a stunning 3-1 series lead. It marked the first time all year that the Golden State Warriors, a team that won a record 73 games, lost two in a row. In Game 4, it was all Russell Westbrook, as he led the way with 36 points, adding 11 rebounds and 11 assists for a Triple Double. Despite a 40-point output from Kevin Durant, the Warriors stayed alive with a 120-111 win in Game 5 in Oakland. Looking to close the series out at home, the Thunder seemed to be in control, leading 96-89 with 5:09 left. However, over the last five minutes, the Thunder looked to be wishing the clock would run down instead of making shots, as the Warriors methodically chipped away, finally tying the game with 2:48 left on a three-point shot by Stephen Curry. After trading buckets, the Warriors took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Klay Thompson with 1:35 left. The Warriors would go on to win 108-101, scoring the final nine points as Thunder went scoreless in the final 2:22, as they at times appeared nervous and reluctant to shoot. The Warriors with new life and the series even would go on to complete the comeback with a 96-88 win in Game 7, taking control of the game in the third quarter.
2016/17: It was like the Oklahoma City Thunder had lost before the season even started. The Thunder had just blown a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors. Making matters worse, their franchise player Kevin Durant was going to be a free agent. The Thunder did everything in their power to keep Durant, but it wasn’t enough, as he elected to leave Oklahoma City and sign with the Warriors. It was a slap in the face for the OKC community but opened the door for Russell Westbrook to emerge out of KD’s shadow. Westbrook was already one of the top players in the NBA while having to share the ball with one of the best players in the NBA in Kevin Durant. Not only did Russell Westbrook excel in the absence of Durant, but he also had one of the greatest seasons in NBA history, joining Oscar Robertson as the only player to average a triple-double over the entire season while winning the league’s scoring championship with 31.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double set a record by having 42 triple-doubles, more than half of OKC’s games. Russell Westbrook would win the NBA’s MVP award as the Thunder finished sixth in the Western Conference with a record of 47-35. The Thunder would lose all four games against the Warriors, including a 130-114 loss at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on February 11th, in Durant’s return to Oklahoma City.
2017 Playoffs: James Harden of the Houston Rockets nearly matched Westbrook’s triple-double numbers and finished second in MVP voting. In the playoffs, the two went head-to-head as the Rockets were the first-round opponent for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the opener, it was all Houston, as the Rockets blitzed the Thunder 118-87. Russell Westbrook had a great individual effort, posting a triple-double with 51 points, ten rebounds, and 13 assists. However, it was not enough as the Rockets shot down the Thunder 115-111 to take a 2-0 series lead. As the series shifted to Chesapeake Energy Arena for Game 3, Westbrook again posted a triple-double, with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists as the Thunder held off a late rally by the Rockets to win the game 115-113. Westbrook posted a third straight triple-double in Game 4, scoring 35 points, with 14 boards and 14 dimes. This time the Thunder could not overcome a late rally by Houston, as the Rockets won the game with a 40-point fourth-quarter 113-109 as Westbrook missed a potential go-ahead three-point shot with 8.9 seconds left. Russell Westbrook carried the Thunder again in Game 5 in Houston, scoring 47 points, with 11 rebounds and nine assists. It would not be enough as the Rockets won the game 105-99 to close out the series four games to one.
2017/18: It was meant to be a season of revival for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The previous season was their first season without former MVP Kevin Durant, and the results showed with a quick postseason appearance, losing in five games to the Houston Rockets in the first round. The Thunder still had a star player in Russell Westbrook, who went on to have statistically one of the best seasons in recent memory. Westbrook won MVP and averaged a triple-double for the season, which had only been done by Oscar Robinson many years ago. In the offseason, GM Sam Presti wanted to help his reigning MVP by acquiring All-Star caliber talent. He did this with the acquisitions of Paul George from the Indiana Pacers and Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks. These trades created another “super team” that has become the new norm in the NBA in recent years. The new “Big Three” in Oklahoma City immediately garnered plenty of media attention and reasserted them as a power in the Western Conference. The Thunder had early struggles. At the end of November, they were sitting with an 8-12 record, and the media was continuously questioning if the three stars were the right fit for each other as all three were shooting career lows in field goal percentage. Soon, the Billy Donavon led squad turned the corner and finally began to mesh on offense and entered the All-Star break with a 33-26 record. One of the bigger wins that helped turn the season around was when they snapped a four-game losing streak by running the Golden State Warriors out of their own arena 125-105. An amazing performance by Russell Westbrook who finished with 34 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists against his former teammate, Kevin Durant. The Thunder went on to post a record of 15-8 after the All-Star Break, which helped them clinch the fourth seed with a 48-34 record on the season. Once again Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double, with 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game.
Written by Sean McGrath
2018 Playoffs: In the first round of the playoffs, the Oklahoma Thunder met the Utah Jazz, who were led by the sensational rookie, Donavon Mitchell. The Thunder were close favorites to win the series and started on track with Paul George scoring 36 points in a 116-108 Game 1 victory. The series took a turn for the worst in Game 2 when Mitchell scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz steal a 102-95 road win and send the series back to Utah tied 1-1. It was in Utah where the Thunder’s season truly fell apart. In Game 3, the Thunder were swept off the floor in a 115-102 drubbing that was never close. Now down 2-1, the Thunder were facing a crucial Game 4 in Utah to try and even the series up. In an extremely ugly game full of cheap shots, trash-talking, and brawls, the Thunder were again blown out of the game, losing 113-96. Game 4 consisted of seven technical fouls and the ejection of Jae Crowder, but the Jazz got the last laugh. After a disastrous two games in Utah, the Thunder returned home and tried salvaging what was left of their season. Things looked bleak for OKC in Game 5, as they trailed by 25 points in the third period. Showing some fighting spirit, the Thunder outscored the Jazz 61-28 over the game’s final 20 minutes, winning 107-99 to avoid elimination. An inevitable return to Salt Lake City was in store, and it was deja vu all over again. The Thunder once again fell short in Utah even with a 46 point effort from Westbrook. They had a chance to tie the game with one minute remaining but missed five different shots after a tremendous effort on the offensive boards. Anthony and George scored a combined 12 points, which perfectly symbolized how ineffective the trio was that season. As Russell Westbrook left the court, he attempted to slap away a fan’s phone, showing evident frustration at what just occurred as well as the real hostility of the crowd. The Thunder’s season came crashing down in Utah, but for most of the season, it was pretty obvious that the “big three” was a failed experiment as the three players never fully meshed together. Carmelo Anthony had one of the worst seasons of his career and was traded to the Hawks in the offseason, thus ending the short-lived “super team.” The season also marked the end of Nick Collison’s tenure on the Thunder. He had been a member of the team since they were the Seattle Supersonics, and he now has his jersey retired at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Written by Sean McGrath
2018/19: After the trade of Carmelo Anthony, there was much speculation that Paul George would leave to join his hometown Los Angeles Lakers; however, he resigned with Oklahoma City Thunder for a second season. It was more of the same for the Thunder early on as they got off to a shaky 0-4 star, but they rebounded a lot quicker than the prior years as they ripped off 16 wins out of their next 19 games. This became the norm for the Thunder as they were an extremely streaky team. Their season was full of winning and losing streaks, which created a roller coaster of a season. One of the better wins again took place when they traveled to Golden State and blew out the Warriors 123-95. It was the second time in the past two years that the Thunder had gone into Oracle Arena and utterly destroyed the Warriors. This time, Dennis Schroder from off the bench exploded for 28 points. Russell Westbrook continued to put up insane stat lines as he averaged a triple-double for the third straight season with 22.9 points. 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game, it was career highs in both rebounding and assists. Paul George had arguably one of the best seasons of his career, as he finished in the top three for MVP voting and NBA Defensive Player of the Years with a team-best 28 ppg. A pleasant surprise for the team was the play of Dennis Schroder, who quietly finished as a finalist for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, with 15.5ppg. Even with all this fantastic play from its players, the Thunder were still members of the Western Conference, which boasts the NBA’s best teams. They finished sixth in the West, with a record of 49-33.
Written by Sean McGrath
2019 Playoffs: The Oklahoma City Thunder were matched up against the Damian Lillard led Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. In Games 1 and 2, the Thunder continued the trend of last year’s postseason road performances by not showing up at all and therefore returning to Oklahoma City down 0-2, losing 104-99 in Game 1 and 114-94 in Game 2. After a 33-point performance by Westbrook in a 120-88 Game 3 victory, the Thunder looked to tie the series up 2-2 in Game 4. After a close first half, Damian Lillard scored 15 in the third quarter to propel the Trail Blazers to a 111-98 win. The series was sent back to Portland with the Thunder down 3-1 and on the brink of another first-round exit. Game 5 proved to be one of the great postseason games of all time. A back and forth affair for the first three quarters, the Thunder finally broke the game open leading 105-90 with 7:45 to play in the fourth quarter. A furious Trail Blazers rally led by Lillard and his franchise breaking ten three-pointers tied the game with 32 seconds left. Then with time ticking down and Lillard holding the ball just beyond the half-court line, he pulled up and hit a buzzer-beater three over Paul George. With that shot, the Thunder’s season was over with the blink of an eye. Lillard’s shot is one of the greatest series-clinching shots of all time as it came from 37 feet away from the basket. The series loss to Portland marked the third consecutive season that the Thunder lost in the first round. It also increased their postseason road record since Durant left for the Warriors to 0-9. After such a bitter end to the season, to make things worse, Paul George left the Thunder to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Clippers. Four days after the signing, the Thunder traded Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, and draft picks, thus the end of an era for the franchise.
Written by Sean McGrath
©MMXX Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on November 27, 2008. Last updated on April 21, 2020, at 11:30 pm ET.