After Friday night’s big win in Game 3, the Thunder now have completely control of this series. Up 2-1 heading into today’s game, Oklahoma City is now playing with house money.
The pressure is off as the Thunder already accomplished their goal in splitting in Los Angeles. But, with a win today, Oklahoma City would have the chance to close it out in Game 5 at home. So, why settle for just a split?
Here are three keys to the Thunder winning Game 4 and being one game away from closing this series out:
1. The bench. Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler were just brilliant on Friday night. Both guys scored 14 points, and as a whole, OKC’s bench produced 34 points; the most they’ve produced in this year’s playoffs. The Clippers bench? Just 28. Butler hit back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter, Jackson was stellar throughout, and Steven Adams made some big defensive plays early in the fourth quarter. OKC’s bench producing could be the difference in this series.
2. The duo. In games 2 and 3, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were just unstoppable. Friday, Durant finished for 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Westbrook went for 23 points, eight rebounds and 13 assists. Last in Friday night’s game, the duo hit big shot after big shot. Right now, these guys are the best duo in the league, and flat out unguardable.
3. The defense. OKC gave up 63 first half points, and 112 total. That just can’t happen. Sure, the offense saved the Thunder, but defensively Oklahoma City has to do a better job. Jamal Crawford exploded for 20 points Friday night, and Blake Griffin probably played his best game all year with 34 points. Oklahoma City can’t just rely on their offense throughout the playoffs, especially against teams like Miami. If the Thunder can hold the Clippers to under 100, they should be in a good position to win.
As I stated earlier, the Thunder can’t stay complacent with just winning one game in LA. With a win today, the Thunder would need to win just one of their next three games. Go out and put this series away.