The Oklahoma City Thunder are now facing a series deficit for the first time since the Western Conference Finals last season.
The Thunder lost 87-81 in Game 3 in Memphis on Saturday afternoon as their offense went ice cold down the stretch and they couldn’t make the stops when they needed to.
Every game of this series has been close so far and it’s hard to imagine anything differently happening the rest of the way.
The Thunder’s defense has not been bad in this series and they clearly need more points to win.
Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin are the key when it comes to that. Ibaka went just 6-for-17 in Game 3 and really struggled from the field at times. Martin also has yet to replicate his Game 1 performance in which he torched Memphis for 25 points.
The Thunder are certainly trying to emphasize Ibaka in the offense and he just isn’t knocking down shots.
The starting lineup is what’s really killing the Thunder which always seems to be the case when things aren’t going well.
The Grizzlies are destroying the Thunder starters who are basically playing two on five with Kevin Durant trying to create everything.
A heavier dose of Nick Collison will be needed if the Thunder intend to come back in this series. The best Thunder fans can wish for at this point is quick, early fouls on Kendrick Perkins and maybe even an injury. It’s gotten that bad.
The Thunder can still win in spite of their starting five. They could still knock down more of their spot-up shots and ride Durant’s cape the rest of the way.
I’m not ready to say this is a must-win for the Thunder yet because they are going back to OKC in this series no matter what and the momentum will have a chance to really shift their way then. But this is very close to a must-win. The way the Thunder offense has looked against Memphis, it’s hard to imagine them mustering up enough points to beat the Grizzlies three straight times.
Tonight will tip at 8:30 p.m. CST and air on TNT.