June 2, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) reacts to a play during the second half of a playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Thunder defeated the Spurs 109-103 Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs: Game 5 Preview


The Oklahoma City Thunder did their job at home and have tied up the Western Conference Finals series at 2-2.

The Thunder will return to San Antonio for Game 5 where it will get tougher to continue the great play they demonstrated at home.

The Thunder made adjustments after the first two games of this series though. They made major adjustments to their rotation and on defense and it worked. Heading back to San Antonio they are not the same team that lost the first two games of this series.

Kevin Durant is prime to perform at a high level as well. He had been holding back from a potentially huge performance until the fourth quarter of Game 4 when he scored 18 points to help lead the Thunder to victory.

Durant is not the whole team or was not solely responsible for the Game 4 win, but role players dim on the road while stars continue to shine. Durant may need to assume the larger role he took on at the end of Game 4 for the Thunder to take the lead in this series.

Russell Westbrook has been quiet in the Thunder’s two wins at home. He scored only 17 points in the last three games but did make an impact on defense and as a playmaker. He cannot forget that he is a player capable of leading the Thunder as a scorer.

If the Spurs come out of the gate strong back at home in Game 5, it may be up to Westbrook to lead the Thunder back. He has been the guy who has done it all year for them when they have fallen behind in games and he might have to remember that Monday night.

Tony Parker averaged just 14 points per game in two games in Oklahoma City after dominating the Thunder in the first two games. Thabo Sefolosha has drawn the duties of containing Parker and risen to the occasion.

Parker and the Spurs will have to figure out the Thunder’s new approach to defending their pick-and-roll to give themselves a good shot of winning Game 5.

At the end of the day it comes down to the role players. At home, the Spurs’ should be better. The Thunder got an 11-for-11 night from Serge Ibaka in Game 4 as well as 15 points from Kendrick Perkins. If those disappear and Danny Green and Boris Diaw step up, the Spurs will be in good position to start winning again.

The Thunder dictate this series though. They have total control in every game. If they play their best, they will not lose. They know what they have to do to stop the Spurs and beat them. It will be tougher on the road but it is the next step for them.

Will they take it?

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Tags: Game 5 Kevin Durant NBA Playoffs Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker Western Conference Finals

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