John Hoover

Thunder haven’t done anything yet — or have they?

Thunder haven’t done anything yet — or have they?
Oklahoma City's postgame celebration was somewhat muted after beating Golden State 108-102 on Monday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Oklahoma City’s postgame celebration was somewhat muted after beating Golden State 108-102 on Monday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Kevin Durant is right. The Thunder haven’t done anything yet.

Oklahoma City did, however, beat Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday night, 108-102 in Oakland.

And, well, the Thunder also beat San Antonio in six games.

In OKC’s last three road games, the Thunder is 3-0 with wins of 4, 14 and 6 points.

The same San Antonio that went 40-1 at home this season. The same Warriors that went 39-2.

That’s three losses all season for those two regular-season behemoths, and three consecutive road playoff victories for OKC.

So, that’s something.

“We’ve been doing that all season,” Durant said. “We had our ups and downs throughout the season, but we just stayed with it. We’re a resilient group and we just kept fighting to the end. That’s all we can do.”

Eh, not really.

Oklahoma City was a big underdog against the Spurs and a big underdog against the Warriors, with good reason: the Thunder didn’t excel in clutch situations during the regular season. In fact, they were pretty awful down the stretch, losing 14 games in which they held the lead in the fourth quarter.

But winning twice in the AT&T Center and winning Game 1 in Oracle Arena says something about this OKC squad that maybe, really, we just didn’t know, that they’re more mature and poised confident than everyone thought.

“Oh, I think you have to have a mindset coming into these kinds of venues. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Monday night. “Our guys, I think they understand what they’re walking into. The San Antonio series, we knew we were playing against a great basketball team and guys on that team had won championships and a great coach in Pop (Gregg Popovich) and we knew what we were playing against.

“Here, we’re playing against Golden State, they’ve won an NBA championship and they’ve got a great coach in Steve (Kerr) and great players and an enormous amount of success and arguably one of the best teams in the history of our game. So our guys understand, you don’t just walk in here and say, ‘Well, everything’s gonna be OK.’ You know, you have to have a mindset to understand.

“The first thing is to embrace the fact that it’s gonna be hard. That’s the first thing. It’s not gonna be easy. And it was a struggle tonight. It was. It was a struggle for us but I thought we had some resiliency and some resolve and we kind of pushed through.”

Indeed, OKC trailed by 14 in the second half and came to life behind Russell Westbrook’s 19-point third-quarter. Buoyed down the stretch by clutch play from Steven Adams and with Durant overcoming eight consecutive misses to put the game away with a late jump shot, the Thunder made winning plays.

Durant’s postgame commentary on his teammates’ muted floor celebration was well-meaning and largely accurate.

“I mean, what’s to celebrate?” he asked. “We didn’t win anything. We didn’t win the championship.”

Yes, the Thunder certainly has designs on winning its first NBA championship.

But don’t let Durant’s tough-guy façade fool you.

Closing out the Spurs and stunning the Warriors — that’s something.

John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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