If it's any consolation for Steven Adams and the Thunder they will now participate in one of the great occasions in sport - a decisive game seven.
But that is unlikely to provide comfort for Oklahoma City after the Golden State Warriors this afternoon recorded a stunning 108-101 game-six victory to set up a fitting finish to the Western Conference finals.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined to crush the Thunder's hopes of closing out the series in front of their home fans, spurring the defending champions with a scintillating fourth-quarter shooting display.
Trailing by seven points with five minutes remaining, the quick release and sweet stroke of Thompson and Curry proved unstoppable down the stretch, breaking Oklahoma City hearts and sending the series back to Oakland for a dramatic climax on Tuesday (NZT).
Curry may be the two-time MVP and record-holder for most three-pointers in a single season, but he today ceded centre stage to his fellow Splash Brother. Thompson had 19 of his 41 points in the fourth and, with 90 seconds remaining, capped a remarkable Warriors comeback with his playoff-record 11th triple of the game.
"Klay Thompson was ridiculous," said Golden State coach Steve Kerr. "I mean, the shooting was some of the most incredible shooting you'll ever see."
It was the type of barrage Curry has unleashed on several occasions in this record-setting season and Thompson revealed it was a pep talk from his back-court mate that provided inspiration for the offensive outburst.
"Steph told me before I went out in the fourth, 'This is your time'," Thompson said. "'Put on a show out there and have fun.' I took those words to heart, and I just tried to be aggressive."
That strategy certainly worked as Thompson and Curry combined to make 17-of-31 from beyond the arc, shooting the Thunder out of the game and levelling a fantastic series at three games apeice.
Curry, who warmed up to score 22 of his 31 points in the second half, nailed a three that left the game tied with three minutes to play and, moments later, repeated the feat to help hand the Thunder a demoralising defeat.
It was a game Oklahoma City controlled almost from the opening tip, shooting out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter but never able to attain a commanding advantage as Kevin Durant struggled offensively.
The former MVP finished with 29 points but needed 31 shots to record that haul, while Russell Westbrook had 28 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Adams enjoyed another impressive outing, grabbing nine points and nine boards - including six on the offensive end - and overcoming some early foul trouble to make several important plays in the fourth quarter.
But the Kiwi's best efforts - which included a monster dunk as he found revenge on rival Draymond Green - were not enough for the Kiwi to book his ticket for the first NBA Finals of his career.
Oh. My. Goodness! Steven Adams! https://t.co/l1qPG1exII— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 29, 2016
That now must be done at the Oracle Arena on Tuesday afternoon, when Oklahoma City will have to somehow shake off the last two losses. Having taken a 3-1 edge in the series and having led the defending champions for much of game six, the Thunder face a fraught 48 hours before their fate is decided.
"We've got another opportunity," Durant said. "We can't hang our heads. We've got another game to play."
Another view of Steven Adams' one-handed stuff:https://t.co/9xeCynSk7I— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) May 29, 2016