Oklahoma City Thunder: Drawing Strength From A Devastating End To A Terrific Season

By Jeff Everette

There is no doubt Kevin Durant and company are in pain still.  It has only been a few days since the Oklahoma City Thunder lost in the 2012 NBA Finals, and during those few days, LeBron James and the Miami Heat have been all over television, celebrating their big win.

It cannot be easy for any team to fall in the final series of the season.  While accomplishing so much more than the teams that stayed home during the playoffs, they are still just the best of the losers in the NBA.  That has to hurt worse than missing the playoffs completely would.

After winning the first game in Oklahoma, the Thunder had to feel that the ultimate goal was within their grasp.  Instead, Miami fired back, landing body blows (Lebron in the post), and head shots (Shane Battier again for 3!) until OKC stumbled around punch drunk.  The Heat pulled a “one flop too late” sweep, winning the next four in a row and taking home the trophy.

Near the end of Game 5, Coach Scott Brooks decided the game was out of hand and pulled his starting players, which gave them an uninterrupted, bird’s eye view of the Heat celebrating.  They watched the hugs, the high fives, the huge smiles, the pure excitement and joy of winning it all.

They watched as Lebron was unable to contain himself, hugging everyone and running around like a little kid.

They watched and it hurt.

And it is going to keep on hurting as the offseason progresses.  there are going to be millions of questions buzzing through each of their minds, everyone of them reliving the moments, and dying inside over what they did wrong, or could have done better.  Hopefully someone goes and checks on James Harden every once in awhile, because he just might need to be put on suicide watch thinking about all that he let get away from him.

It would appear that the moment was too big for the young OKC squad, but the team they played was pretty good, too.  Even if the moment hadn’t swallowed them whole, it would have been tough to compete with the Heat.  Miami had everything going at just the right time.  OKC just needs to accept that.  They need to accept that and learn from the mistakes they made in the Finals.

Russel Westbrook cannot do it on his own.  It was thrilling to see his skills put on display during his outburst in Game 4, but he proved that one man cannot beat a championship quality team.  Durant must find better ways to get the ball in his spots.  He has to be the phenomenal talent that he is and exert his dominance on the opponent.  Some weight training would be good, too.  As a team they need to stick to the game plan and not resort to iso’s when they become panicked, and the coaching staff needs to not be afraid of making adjustments.  All of the teams flaws were just highlighted for the world to see, and now they must do something about it.  They are too talented a bunch to let this slip away without a fight.

As the offseason slips past, the pain they all feel now will not feel so intense, but the real therapy won’t begin until the new season starts up.  It may not be the same team that nearly stood atop the basket ball world, but it can be a better one.  One that is focused and aggressive, hungry and undeniable.

This was the Heat’s year, but Oklahoma City will be back, and next time they won’t be leaving without the gold.

Jeff Everette is a featured columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA.  You can follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, or subscribe to his Facebook page at  Jeff Everette- RantSports.com, for all of his latest articles, opinions, and rants.
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