Good morning. Let's basketball.
THE THUNDER ROLLS: Your Oklahoma City Thunder finished the job early in Game 6, smoking the Spurs in the second quarter and hanging on late to win 113-99 and clinch a spot in the Western Conference Finals. Kevin Durant racked up 37 points, while Russell Westbrook had 28 and 12 assists.
If it was Tim Duncan's last game, he didn't drop any clues except for playing the entire fourth quarter after a mysterious conversation on the bench with Gregg Popovich. (You'll be unsurprised to learn Pop did not reveal the nature of the chat in his gruff postgame comments.) Duncan had 19 points on the game, and the Spurs were +12 in his 34 minutes and -26 in the 14 minutes he sat on the bench. He also suffered a highly metaphoric block at the hands of Serge Ibaka in the closing minutes.
Thunder-Warriors starts on Monday in Oakland. That series has a high potential for insanity.
ON THE AIR TONIGHT ...
Raptors at Heat, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN (TOR leads 3-2)
STUNNER: Scott Skiles announced his resignation from the Magic on Thursday. No real reason was given. Leaked whispers indicate that he maybe doesn't like Elfrid Payton and that he realized in January he didn't want to coach this particular team anymore. Just a huge, bizarre setback for the Magic.
DAME'S TEAM: Woj on Damian Lillard taking the reins from LaMarcus Aldridge, who comes off less than glowing. That dynamic has always been interesting to me. Paul Flannery wrote about it back in the fall, and it comes up still now and then. How very talented people coexist is a super interesting topic that doesn't receive enough analysis as we talk about the new super teams sprouting up. Speaking of the Blazers in particular, here's Jesus Gomez on how Portland can build upon this season.
SWOOSH V. STRIPES: Nick DePaula on Ben Simmons' coming shoe decision.
IT'S ALWAYS THE RIGHT TIME FOR BIYOMBO: Nice look at Bismack Biyombo's timely on-court explosion, something giving a huge assist to Toronto.
Happy Friday. See you next time.
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How to survive an encounter with Russell Westbrook
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