Another Oklahoma City Thunder vs Memphis Grizzlies game, another overtime required to obtain a result and another Thunder loss at home.
Game 5 was going to be one of the most important games of the first round playoff series between the Thunder and the Grizzlies. The #2 seed Thunder were able to tie the series up with a tough and gritty win against the Grizzlies on their home floor a couple of days ago and were trying to take momentum and the series lead in front of a hometown crowd and on their own floor at Chesapeake Arena.
It wasn’t meant to be.
The Thunder again started slowly, again the superstars shot poorly and again they turned the ball over far too many times – only on this occasion, OKC were unable to rectify the damage and instead fell one game behind the Grizzlies in the series and now have to try and steal a win on the road to avoid their season ending prematurely.
Kevin Durant uncharacteristically missed a free throw that would have tied the game, but the Thunder were able to get a stop on the Grizzlie’s final possession to give themselves one last chance at a victory. Durant missed the game winning three point basket and Serge Ibaka’s tip in was reviewed and waived off – ensuring Memphis a win and another game on their home floor.
Tony Allen was again superb in slowing down Durant and forcing him into a poor shooting night. Durant went 10-24 from the floor and scored 26 points, but it took a lot of effort to get those numbers. Russell Westbrook also had a rough shooting night but played a terrific all around game that saw him rack up a triple double. He had 30pts, 10rebs and 13ast including a huge dunk with 4 seconds remaining in regulation to force the extra period.
Serge Ibaka again played his part adding 15 points and 12 rebounds, while the Thunder got some support from the bench through Caron Butler who chipped in 15pts and 5rebs.
The Thunder trailed for most of the game but were able to stage a rally to get the game close and subsequently head to overtime. As a team the Thunder were sloppy with the basketball and had 17 turnovers comparatively to Memphis’ 9. The often looked lacking in energy and seemed to make lazy, ill-advised plays. In the end, they paid a hefty price for some lackluster first half basketball and now find themselves just one game away from elimination.
Game 6 will be played in Memphis and the Grizzlies have all the momentum and seemingly all the answers. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been winning the offensive battle and Tony Allen has clearly been winning the defensive matchups. Memphis will go into the next game full of confidence and with their sights firmly set on sending the Thunder packing for the second post-season in a row.
For the Thunder, it is now or never. It seems as though this has been the motto for the entire series and OKC have managed to find a way to respond. They won’t get another chance after Game 6 – so they better get ready to rumble. Otherwise it looks to be a very long off-season of criticism and scrutiny.
Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder