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Sounds of Thunder: Playoff Extra - Oklahoma City Thunder look to close out the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6

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if the Thunder finish the Spurs, will Duncan call it a career?

Thursday night the Oklahoma City Thunder may play a part in the final scene of the last chapter of an era. At age 40 one has to wonder just how much longer Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental, will lace them up and this series with the Thunder will likely weigh into that decision.

While it is clear that Duncan's minutes have substantially dropped, what is more telling is the production in those minutes. Throughout his career Duncan has averaged .55 pts/minute and posted a lifetime 24.3 PER. Last season, in a seven games series against the Los Angeles Clippers that was every bit as physical as this series with the Thunder, Duncan averaged .5 pts/min and posted a PER of 24.2. Thirty-nine years old and was still getting it done. Amazing.

At forty however, those numbers have more than dropped in half. When asked how much longer he would play Duncan has said as long as he is productive, and at .22 pts/min and a 10.7 PER, he's isn't and contrary to what many were beginning to believe, the ageless one appears to indeed have a shelf life and the end is closing in.

However, that doesn't make a win on Thursday a foregone conclusion. Quite the opposite. The Spurs may be old, but they aren't dead yet and a nineteen year legend staring at his basketball mortality is not something to take lightly. Duncan didn't come this far by quitting and he isn't about to start now. IF he goes down it won't be without a fight. The Thunder just thought beating the Spurs on the road was tough. Well, I have a feeling they ain't seen nuthin' yet.

The good news is that there was no wild celebration after game 5:

Just a march to the locker room and a plane ride home.  Anthony Morrow got it right at the beginning of the video:

Stay with it, we're just gonna have to stay with it..

And stay with it harder, longer, and more efficiently than ever. Thursday will be the Thunder's best opportunity to close out this series, and cutting down on those 20 turnovers from game 5 would be a perfect place to start . The Spurs won the points off turnover battle 18 to 7 and outscored the Thunder 17 to 14 on 2nd chance points. Spotting good teams 14 points like that is not generally conducive to winning and the Thunder don't want to try to beat the Spurs three times in a row at the AT&T Center. The best scenario would be handling their business at the Peake with these crazies backing them up:

That's right Kevin Durant ! One more, this series isn't over, not by a long shot, and the Thunder will have to pull out all the stops to put an aging lion to bed and it will not be easy because he's cagey, he's trapped, and he's hungry.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

On a side note:

If Thursday's game proves to be Duncan's last, I feel totally confident saying he will walk away from the game in the same manner that he played it... with class. If Old Man Riverwalk calls it a career, there will be no farewell tour that distracts from his team or garish fanfare drawing attention to himself because that has never been the future Hall of Famer's style. I envision a meeting with Pops, then his teammates, a short press conference with a brief statement thanking his fans, maybe answer a few questions, and that will be it.

I have always thought of Timmy Duncan as an opponent and a fierce competitor, but also as a gentleman, and a gentleman always knows when and how to leave.

Enjoy the game, Thunder Nation.