Durant, Thunder roll
The league's MVP came up big in Game 6 as OKC ousted the Clippers.
Kevin Durant's reward is another trip to the Western Conference finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The league MVP made the most foolish headline in recent newspaper history look even worse Thursday night with a spectacular 39-point performance, propelling the Thunder into a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs for a spot in the NBA Finals.
While Russell Westbrook struggled and Oklahoma City's role players foundered, Durant carried his teammates through Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant accounted for nearly half of their points with buckets or assists as the Thunder finally finished off their mentally exhausted second-round opponents, 104-98.
"Experience has helped us out a lot, just being with each other for so long," Durant said. "We've got a long ways to go. We definitely can get better. This is definitely a series that pushed us to the brink. We were in a tough spot. We stayed together and persevered."
Thunder's Ibaka out
Oklahoma City defensive specialist Serge Ibaka is expected to miss the rest of the NBA playoffs because of a left calf injury.
The 6-foot-10 forward had an MRI on Friday, a day after the Thunder eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers and advanced to the Western Conference finals against the Spurs. The team called the injury a Grade 2 strain of the plantaris, which takes time to heal and strengthen because of a high re-injury rate.
Heat-Pacers meet again
The goals were divergent: The Indiana Pacers spent the entire season chasing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference; the Miami Heat spent the season making sure they would be healthy, rested, reinvigorated for these Eastern Conference finals.
The inevitability of it all was the destination: During All-Star Weekend, Heat forward LeBron James told Pacers coach Frank Vogel, "looking forward to seeing you in May."
Sunday, that destiny becomes reality, when the Heat play the Pacers at 3:30 p.m. in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series that will determine which of the two advance to the NBA Finals against either the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder.