June 12 anniversary – Thunder’s Game 1 victory in the 2012 NBA Finals


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Feb 27, 2018
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From Bill Haisten...

On the calendar of Oklahoma sports history, Wednesday is a significant anniversary.

June 12, 2012: At Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, the Thunder defeated the Miami Heat 105-94 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

As we left the gym that night, I and about 18,000 other people had the strong belief that OKC would win that series.

After seeing an injured Kevin Durant being helped from the floor on Monday – during Golden State’s Game 5 Finals victory at Toronto – I tapped the Tulsa World archives and revisited the 2012 Finals.

The 2011-12 Thunder was driven by a 23-year-old Durant, a 23-year-old Russell Westbrook, a 22-year-old James Harden and a 22-year-old Serge Ibaka.

In 46 Game 1 minutes against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat, Durant totaled 36 points on 12-of-20 shooting. He had eight rebounds and committed only two turnovers.

Westbrook scored 27 points and finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double. He also had only two turnovers.

While Ibaka contributed 10 points and six rebounds – and while Nick Collison grabbed 10 rebounds – Harden had a quiet Game 1: the 2012 NBA Sixth Man of the Year had five points on 2-of-6 shooting.

For the Heat, James, Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 59 points. An important stat: OKC had a 52-38 advantage in rebounds.

If any one period stands as the excitement zenith of the Thunder’s Oklahoma run, it would have been the 45 hours that separated the end of Game 1 and the start of Game 2. There was the very real possibility that the state of Oklahoma would celebrate an NBA title.

More photos here