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.
Photos 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.
Photos 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.
Photos by OKC Thunder
OKC WELCOMES CELEBRITIES, ON-AIR AND OFF
FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE
ALL ROADS, IT SEEMS, LEAD TO MEMPHIS
PLAYOFF T-SHIRTS: A TRADITION WITH A TWIST
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
THUNDER ALLEY BECOMES A BLOCK PARTY
FANS PLAY THEIR PART LIKE NO OTHER
SURE SIGN OF SPRING IN OKC: PLAYOFF SIGNAGE