Originally written November 01, 2012 on Fox Sports:
The Oklahoma City Thunder already faced a daunting task in trying to return to the NBA finals. That might have gotten even more difficult after last weekend's trade. The Thunder now have to make another push for a title without reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, a quest they begin on the road Thursday night in a Western Conference finals rematch against the San Antonio Spurs. With All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the way, the Thunder (47-19) took a major step last season with the franchise's first appearance in the NBA finals since the Seattle SuperSonics lost to Chicago in 1996. After rallying from a 2-0 deficit against San Antonio to claim the West crown - ending the Spurs' 20-game overall winning streak in the process - Oklahoma City won the series opener versus Miami but dropped the next four games. With their young core of Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka already locked up to long-term contracts, the Thunder tried to keep Harden as...
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