The Spurs' 112-77 victory Wednesday that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder was over by the time they were singing Sweet Caroline midway through the third quarter, when the 18,581 on hand swayed and smiled and treated this old basketball barn like it was the biggest karaoke bar you'll ever find. But there's nothing sweet about the Thunder's predicament here.
The next two games will be coming in the friendly confines of their Chesapeake Energy Arena, but their missing big man in the middle, Serge Ibaka, still won't be taking part because of his season-ending calf strain. That leads to the logical conclusion that the Thunder may not make the trip back to San Antonio for Game 5. It's a shame, to be sure, as the Thunder's 4-0 record against the Spurs during the regular season (with Ibaka) was evidence enough that this had all the makings of a marquee matchup. Instead, the Thunder have become the NBA equivalent of that punch-drunk singer at closing time who gets booed off the stage.
It's almost entirely pointless to dissect the hows and whys and whats of this series at this point because of the false advertising that has come into play. The post-James Harden Thunder were built to have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook fight over the gas pedal of this high-powered sports car and for Ibaka to be the best kind of backseat driver. Then right as the basketball gods hit Ibaka's eject button and this whole joy ride came to a crashing halt, here come the deep and selfless Spurs with their tow truck to haul the wreckage away.
This simply isn't a reenactment of the often-referenced 2012 Western Conference finals, no matter how many times the Spurs try to convince us that their collapse against the Thunder back then (when they had identical 2-0 series lead before getting swept) is serving as a cautionary tale. Not only was Ibaka in the fold back then, but Harden hadn't yet been traded to the Houston Rockets and Spurs stalwarts like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green hadn't grown into the players they are today.
Source: usatoday.com Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports