Steven Adams' dreams of reaching his first NBA Finals will come down to a winner-takes-all thriller tomorrow afternoon (NZT).
The Kiwi basketballer yesterday suffered a dispiriting defeat in the Western Conference Finals as his Oklahoma City Thunder had their hearts broken 108-101 by the Golden State Warriors.
Adams and the Thunder squandered their second straight chance to eliminate the defending champions, losing a large lead at home as the record-setting Warriors sent the series to a decisive seventh game back in Oakland.
Aiming to become the second New Zealander after Sean Marks to feature on the most illustrious stage in basketball, Adams and his teammates will have to shake off the psychological blow of dropping back-to-back games if they are to set up a meeting with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It's a good thing, then, that in Adams the Thunder have the type of personality to ensure shoulders don't slump. Described by local newspaper the Oklahoman as being of "perpetual lightheartedness", the 22-year-old was already attempting to boost his side straight after yesterday's game.
"If you're asking about the spirit of the team, it's pretty good, man," Adams said. "It's pretty fine ... We'll bounce back."
Adams was eliminated at the same stage of the season in his first year in the NBA and has since transformed into one of the best young centres in the league. His impact was one of the key factors behind OKC taking a 3-1 lead in the series. He will hope to continue that form tomorrow in the biggest game of his career.