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Oklahoma City Thunder: Are They the Best Team in the NBA?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 06:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts towards the end of the game against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 6, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Phil ShoreCorrespondent IJune 7, 2012

There’s still the matter of the NBA Championship, and without a title the Oklahoma City Thunder really haven’t won anything yet.

But after a thrilling series victory over the San Antonio Spurs, is the Thunder the best team in the NBA?

Fans have salivated over this team for the past few years now, and understandably so, as they play a good and exciting brand of basketball.

The team as a whole and the individuals are good at both ends of the court. Offensively, the team has Kevin Durant, the league’s scoring champion the past three seasons. The team is extremely fast and gets up and down the court with ease. Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are all able to hit the big shots and carry the team through stretches.

As a unit, they were third in the league in points per game (103.1), and one of only three teams to average 100 points per game.

Defensively, there is Serge Ibaka, the NBA leader in blocks per game (3.65), and Durant again, who was eighth in the league in defensive rebounds per game (7.4). The team tied for third in the league in opponents’ field-goal percentage (42.7 percent).

The team’s bread and butter is playing good defense and creating turnovers so they can use their speed and athleticism to get out on the fast break and hit easy baskets.

But this Thunder team is more than just stats and talent. This team has matured, put it all together this year and finished games at the most crucial times.

After losing in the first round to the Lakers two years ago and losing in the conference finals last year to Dallas, the Thunder learned from those losses, developed as a team and came back strong in the playoffs this year.

In the 2012 NBA Playoffs, the Thunder knocked off the Dallas Mavericks, who were the reigning NBA Champions. The next to fall were the Los Angeles Lakers, the winners of the two championships before that and a team that also had Kobe Bryant. Then came the Spurs, winners of four championships since 1999 and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs the past two seasons.

Oklahoma City is the first Western Conference team in the past 14 years not named the Mavericks, Lakers or Spurs to reach the NBA Finals.

The saying is that to be the best, you have to beat the best.

Oklahoma City has beaten the best.

Now if they are to win the championship, they’ll have to beat either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat, two teams that have participated in three of the past four NBA Finals.

Looking at what Oklahoma City has done in the standings, the stat book and against the league’s elite teams, the question is—is the time now for the Thunder?

It looks like the young upstarts with loads of potential have finally reached the summit and have earned the right to be called the best team in the league.

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