The 2014 NBA playoffs have captivated through the conference finals. Now the Western Conference Finals head to a pivotal Game 6 while things are finally settled out east.
The San Antonio Spurs retook the upper hand in the Western Conference Finals over Oklahoma City in Game 5 at home with a 117-89 victory—another blowout in a series that has seen every game decided by a sizable margin. The backs are against the wall for the Thunder, who head home needing a Game 6 victory to keep their season alive.
Meanwhile, the Heat closed out the Pacers in Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals as LeBron James heads to his fourth straight NBA Finals and aims to win a third consecutive championship.
Let's dive into the latest results with the NBA playoffs and take a closer look at each series.
|Western Conference Finals: Spurs Lead Thunder, 3-2|
|Game 1||Spurs 122, Thunder 105||-||-||San Antonio|
|Game 2||Spurs 112, Thunder 77||-||-||San Antonio|
|Game 3||Thunder 106, Spurs 97||-||-||Oklahoma City|
|Game 4||Thunder 105, Spurs 92||-||-||Oklahoma City|
|Game 5||Spurs 117, Thunder 89||-||-||San Antonio|
|Game 6||Saturday, May 31||8:30 p.m.||TNT||Oklahoma City|
|Game 7*||Monday, June 2||9 p.m.||TNT||San Antonio|
|Eastern Conference Finals: Heat Top Pacers, 4-2|
|Game 1||Pacers 107, Heat 96||-||-||Indiana|
|Game 2||Heat 87, Pacers 83||-||-||Indiana|
|Game 3||Heat 99, Pacers 87||-||-||Miami|
|Game 4||Heat 102, Pacers 90||-||-||Miami|
|Game 5||Pacers 93, Heat 90||-||-||Indiana|
|Game 6||Heat 117, Pacers 92||-||-||Miami|
* If necessary
The complete NBA playoffs bracket can be found here, courtesy of NBA.com.
Western Conference Finals
Out west, it's been a battle of blowouts between the Thunder and Spurs.
San Antonio took a stranglehold over the series with two wins at home to open things up, but Serge Ibaka's return fueled OKC to two straight victories as they took the momentum right back.
Returning home for Game 5 was just what the Spurs needed to get their offense back on track and start frustrating the Thunder's offense.
San Antonio ground out a double-digit lead at half. After out-scoring the Thunder by 10 in the third, the Spurs were cruising to a 28-point win that surpassed 30 at numerous points throughout the fourth.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was at a loss when explaining the margin of victory in all five games of the series, per the Associated Press via ESPN:
"I have no clue, honestly," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the disparity. "I think every game, it's a different animal. It really is. We talk to our team about that all the time. You have no clue what's going to happen, how a team is going to come out, whether they're going to be lethargic or hold the ball, get 50/50 balls or don't get 50/50 balls."
Oklahoma City's two victories at home at least guaranteed the team the chance to fight for its season, again at home, in Game 6.
The following tweet from the Thunder summed up the desperate mindset of OKC:
The re-emergence of Ibaka, along with dominant games from Durant and Russell Westbrook, is the only way the Thunder can stay alive and force a Game 7. The shot-blocker finished with just six points and two rebounds in Game 6 and wasn't the same force inside after blocking off the paint in Games 3 and 4.
The Thunder have been a different team at home, and the Spurs haven't stood a chance late in either of the games they've played in OKC during this series. It's another story whether Oklahoma City can win a Game 7 on the road, but the cards are stacked in their favor at least for Game 6.
Eastern Conference Finals
Once again, the Miami Heat are headed to the NBA Finals.
They accomplished that feat for the fourth time in four years with a 117-92 win in Game 6 over the Indiana Pacers that was controlled by the Heat from start to finish.
One game removed from a seven-point outing that marked his worst ever postseason scoring performance, James was a force on offense. He finished with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting, pulling down four rebounds and dishing out six assists.
After outscoring the Pacers by 15 in the second quarter, the Heat poured it on even more throughout the third and led by nearly 40 points during a stretch. When the game reached the fourth quarter, it was all but over.
As noticed by Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick, the Heat were already focused on the NBA Finals seconds after winning Game 6:
The Pacers were once again a pesky opponent for the Heat just before the Finals, but Erik Spoelstra's squad rose above Lance Stephenson's antics and an early 1-0 deficit to close it out in six. That was crucial as it kept the Heat from having to play a Game 7 in Indiana.
But winning the Eastern Conference isn't what brought James to Miami and got this team of stars together. They assembled for championships and they're chasing what would be a third straight.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh could start to dry the cement on their legacy as one of the great dynasties in NBA history by completing the championship trifecta and closing out either the Spurs or Thunder in the upcoming NBA Finals.
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