playoff memories


The NBA Playoffs bring a wave of excitement like no other time of the year. Banners featuring the team and its players go up on buildings and billboards all over town, windows are painted with words of encouragement and offices suggest their employees wear blue on game days. We’ve been fortunate to have so many postseason experiences in such a small window of time, thrilling moments that will live in our memories forever.



FINALS HIGHLIGHTS INCREDIBLE RUN


The Thunder played in 15 playoff series between the 2011-16 seasons, an incredible average of three series per postseason. The team reached the Western Conference Finals four times during that five-year stretch and advanced to the NBA Finals in 2012.

In 2012, the core players on the roster were in their early 20s. Standing before them on their path to the NBA Finals stood the last three Western Conference teams to win an NBA title – the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.

The Thunder cleared those hurdles, sweeping the Mavericks in the first round and ousting the Lakers in five games to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Despite going down 0-2 on the road against the ever-formidable San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder ripped off four consecutive wins to create the greatest environment in team history. As the seconds clicked off the clock in Game 6, Kevin Durant hit Kendrick Perkins for a wide-open, series-sealing dunk and the Thunder punched its ticket to its first NBA Finals. The noise was deafening inside the arena, but it was all a precursor to the incredibly rare experience for Oklahoma City to host two Finals games.

Against the star-studded, in-prime Miami Heat, the Thunder got off on the right foot with a win in Game 1, but lost the next four games, including three on the road, coming up just short of the ultimate glory.

 
FINALS HIGHLIGHTS INCREDIBLE RUNPhotos by OKC Thunder



IMPROBABLE COMEBACKS FUEL THUNDER RUN


There have been too many incredible shots to count during the Thunder postseason timeline, but the team’s come-from-behind victories certainly stand out. In 2012, there were the 13-point, fourth-quarter deficits in Game 4 against Dallas (first round) and in Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers (second round). That same year, in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder rallied from an 18-point deficit to clinch a trip to the Finals.

The most iconic of all the comebacks, however, came in 2014, in Game 5 against the LA Clippers. The Thunder trailed nearly the entire game, falling behind by as many as 15 on its home court and down seven, 104-97, with 49 seconds to play. The resiliency of the team was on full display as the Thunder closed the game on an 8-0 run that included three of the gutsiest, no-fear free throws by Russell Westbrook with 6.4 seconds to play that put the Thunder ahead to stay.

 
IMPROBABLE COMEBACKS FUEL THUNDER RUNPhotos by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images



ONE AND DONE: PLAYOFF PEP RALLY


It’s become a full-fledged, well-oiled machine by now, with fans streaming in and out on Reno Avenue in front of Chesapeake Energy Arena to take part in the festivities in Love’s Thunder Alley. But before that, leading up to the team’s first playoff appearance in 2010, the Thunder hosted a playoff pep rally in Bricktown in which thousands of fans ignored downpour conditions to show their support. Thunder Fan Fest, presented by the team’s Founding Partners, included a performance by Graham Colton, words from Mayor Mick Cornett and appearances by Thunder entertainers.

 
PLAYOFF PEP RALLYPhotos by OKC Thunder



OKC WELCOMES CELEBRITIES, ON-AIR AND OFF

During the course of the 82-game regular season, Thunder fans from across the globe get plenty of opportunities to watch the team play on national television, but in the playoffs, the coverage ramps up to another level. With ABC, ESPN and TNT crews in town, Oklahoma City often welcomes some of the league’s high-profile media members, celebrities and, of course, NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein.

 

OKC WELCOMES CELEBRITIES, ON-AIR AND OFF
Photos by OKC Thunder



FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE

During the course of the 82-game regular season, Thunder fans from across the globe get plenty of opportunities to watch the team play on national television, but in the playoffs, the coverage ramps up to another level. With ABC, ESPN and TNT crews in town, Oklahoma City often welcomes some of the league’s high-profile media members, celebrities and, of course, NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein.

 

FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE
Photos by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images



ALL ROADS, IT SEEMS, LEAD TO MEMPHIS

In a four-year span, the Thunder played 19 postseason games across three separate series against the Memphis Grizzlies. These series were some of the most physically grueling and intense in the NBA, and included some of the most incredible games in Thunder history. In 2011, the team’s second playoffs experience, the Thunder advanced with a Game 7 victory in a series that that included an overtime loss in Game 3 and a triple-overtime victory in Game 4, both on the road. In 2013, with Russell Westbrook sidelined with a knee injury, the Thunder lost to the Grizzlies in five games, but came back the next season and traded haymakers again with Memphis in a series that included four consecutive overtime games. Down 2-1 in the series, the Thunder got an incredible 32-point road performance by Reggie Jackson in Game 4 and, despite losing in overtime in Game 5 at home, closed out the series with emphatic wins in Memphis and at home.

 

FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE
Photos by Getty Images



PLAYOFF T-SHIRTS: A TRADITION WITH A TWIST

They have become synonymous with the Thunder playoff experience – free T-shirts for the fans in attendance, creating a captivating backdrop of blue, white and even a checkerboard effect of both.

The tradition started during the team’s first playoff series, in 2010 against the Los Angeles Lakers. But there is a surprise twist to the story that now includes 53 T-shirts. The free playoff T-shirt was intended to be for that first home game of the series only, Game 3.
It didn’t take long to realize we needed to re-think that idea.

The arena was filled with fans who arrived early and immediately put on the blue T-shirt that awaited on their seat. The T-shirts were a way bigger hit than we could have ever imagined. It was clear we needed to do it again for Game 4, despite having no T-shirt design and no sponsor. So in less than 48 hours, we managed to track down more than 18,000 white T-shirts, get a Thunder playoffs logo printed on them and get them onto the seats before doors opened!

Despite the mad scramble, a tradition was born, and Thunder fans have rocked T-shirts for every playoff game since. -Abby Morgan, Director, Partnership Activation

 

FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE



THUNDER ALLEY BECOMES A BLOCK PARTY

Love’s Thunder Alley has become an integral part of the Thunder playoff experience. With a wide variety of food, games and activities for all ages, Thunder Alley is essentially a pregame party for some 2,000 or so fans. That wasn’t always the case. During the team’s 2012 run to the NBA Finals, Thunder Alley had an in-game presence as well, one that served as a dramatic backdrop for TNT’s national broadcast. The team had a 74-foot by 20-foot videoboard to air the playoff games to fans without a ticket, creating a next-best, place-to-be environment on Reno Ave. that grew in popularity with every win. It was too good to last. On May 21, police estimate more than 6,000 fans were in Thunder Alley to watch as the Thunder eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers. City officials said that while the atmosphere was infectious, it created too many public safety concerns to continue.

 

FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE
Photo by OKC Thunder



FANS PLAY THEIR PART LIKE NO OTHER

Consistently known as one of the greatest crowds in the NBA, Chesapeake Energy Arena has helped cultivate one of the most intimidating home-court advantages in the league, especially during the playoffs. Persistent noise, plus an avalanching effect that occurs when the Thunder goes on a run, has helped push the team over the top in games against even the stiffest of opposition. Fans arrive early, put on their playoff T-shirt, stand for long stretches of the action and always have their team’s back.

 

FANS PLAY THEIR PART LIKE NO OTHER
Photo by OKC Thunder



SURE SIGN OF SPRING IN OKC: PLAYOFF SIGNAGE

It is a sure sign of spring in Oklahoma City, with the tulips blooming and the obvious sights that the NBA Playoffs are upon us. From the Thunder colors flashing up to the top of Devon Tower to the banners that take up entire building facades throughout downtown Oklahoma City and the metro, the postseason showcases the overwhelming sense of civic pride. Restaurants and shops -- with storefront windows painted in Thunder colors and campaigns -- bring out more Thunder-themed items, players’ faces are splashed across buildings and the locals show their support by wearing their favorite Thunder merchandise.

 

SURE SIGN OF SPRING IN OKC: PLAYOFF SIGNAGE
Photos by OKC Thunder