Thunder in the news: OKC look to recreate magic in Utah

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 25: Paul George /

There is no time for the OKC Thunder to basque in the glow of their epic comeback as they prepare once more for an elimination game.

For fans of the OKC Thunder it’s never dull that’s for sure. As much as the frustration of witnessing struggles is prevalent, so too are the highs of their absolute best. I’m still feeling hyper from the Game 5 comeback win as I’m sure most in Thunder Nation are.

Every highlight reel, NBA TV show or social media hit took us right back to Wednesday night. Some fan bases never get to experience these highs and for that we should be thankful. Sure, it’s equally depressing when the team doesn’t live up to expectations, but when they do it’s pure elation.

There were some who thought the mountain was too steep to climb and in fairness we need to cut them some slack. The fact only two teams in history overcame such a deficit speaks to how rare the comeback win was.

The Tower which must be stifled:

Although the rookie Donovan Mitchell has been a clear factor in the series it is fair to say the most important Utah Jazz player is Rudy Gobert. Brett Dawson of NewsOK highlights the Gobert effect.

"OKC is shooting 41.5 percent as a team in the 174 minutes Gobert has been on the court in the series. That number jumps to 50 in the 66 minutes Gobert has spent on the bench. The Thunder is scoring 96.7 points per 100 possessions with Gobert on the court and 116.1 with him off.When Gobert is on the floor, Oklahoma City is getting 28.8 percent of its field-goal attempts from inside the restricted area. It’s making 54.9 percent of those shots. When Gobert is off the court, 44.5 percent of OKC’s shots come in the restricted area, and it shoots 61.2 percent on those shots."

More from Thunderous Intentions

The Melo Chronicles:

For as much as Gobert has been the cornerstone of Utah’s success, arguably Carmelo Anthony is the scapegoat for OKC’s failures.

Erik Horne of NewsOK delivers the stunning stats which punctuate why so many of the scribes have screamed for Patterson or Grant to get more minutes.

"But in Games 3 and 4 in Salt Lake City, the Thunder was gashed defensively for 125.1 and 117.2 points per 100 possessions, respectively, with Anthony on the floor.Gobert is more likely to avoid foul trouble in Game 6 at home than Westbrook and George are to duplicate their dominant close to Game 5. Defensive sustainability is more attainable for the Thunder than Anthony becoming a stopper playing the 35 minutes he averaged in three straight losses."

Can the OKC Thunder create magic in Salt Lake City?

For those of us who refused to buckle, even we know OKC could easily have been on the wrong side of history. Therein lies the challenge of this season. For every incredible high such as wins over top squads or Wednesday night there have been equally low nadirs.

At issue this evening is whether the OKC Thunder can do something they’ve failed to very often this season. On three occasions this entire season OKC followed up a big win versus an elite squad with another. Twice they did it back to back and once they did it three times in a row. Yet, that is precisely what the OKC Thunder must do to move ahead to face the Houston Rockets. The question is can they? And, can they do it on enemy territory? The answer will be discovered this evening.

In preparation for the tip check out Wil Harrington’s Game Day Preview and my 5 takeaways from Game 5 including what needs to be brought into Game 6.

Defying the odds:

Oddsmakers favor the Utah Jazz by six points, but there is one thing oddsmakers can’t measure – heart. In this case the heart of Russell Westbrook. Just as Westbrook almost single handedly erased a 25 point deficit, so too will he approach Game 6.

Paul George has his own scars from previous playoff losses. Carmelo Anthony who has yet to put his mark on the series also carries years of playoff disappointments.

So, as this trio takes to the court tonight can they summon the will to do what Sam Presti envisioned when he made the moves to bring them together? More importantly, can they work with their teammates to allow the team to succeed?

All I know, is if I had to pick one player in the entire NBA even including the great LeBron James it is Russell Westbrook I would bet on. He proved it in Game 5.  My money is on him doing it again in Game 6.

Next: Round 1 complete series hub article compilation

It’s all or nothing Thunder Nation – and to put it succinctly — In Russ I trust. Let’s get it!