Tip-Off: 7 PM CT
Location: Toyota Center (Houston, TX)
Television: TNT, FSOK
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
The Oklahoma City Thunder have fought valiantly all season long, but tonight they find themselves in a win or go home situation. The Rockets essentially stole Game 4 away from the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Sunday, and with a 3-1 lead, Houston is feeling pretty good about its chances to end the series tonight at home.
While this series has been extremely close outside of Game 1, tonight’s game appears to be shrouded in questions: Do the Thunder stand a chance? What is Russell Westbrook going to do in an elimination game situation? Will Thunder fans get another chance to watch the Thunder at the Peake? Will Patrick Beverley ever shut his mouth?
There is no telling what might go down tonight at the Toyota Center, but one thing is almost certain: it is bound to be entertaining. Oklahoma City did a fairly decent job overall on Sunday, but the Thunder simply could not close out the game. Here are a few adjustments that the Thunder need to make to put themselves in a situation to win Game 5.
- Follow the Leader: All season long Russell Westbrook has been the unequivocal leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the team needs him tonight more than ever. Westbrook is a man of many emotions while on the court, and tonight, they need him to come into the game with a full head of steam and his eyes set on destroying the opposition, all while maintaining his composure. The rest of the team needs to fall in line and follow the Brodie’s lead. If the other guys can step up and play with the same intensity that Westbrook brings every night, good things should happen.
- Make Good Choices: The Thunder struggled in Game 4 largely due to bad passes that led to turnovers and poor shot selection. Oklahoma City turned the ball over 17 times, their high for the series, and while they did not shoot poorly as a whole, the offense stuttered during key possessions, and this ended up costing them the game. Westbrook has shot over 40% in just one game so far this series, so the he will need to be efficient with his shot-selection tonight. On top of that, role players need to take care of the basics like chasing down rebounds, playing efficient defense, and making crisp passes. Oklahoma City is going to need to play solid in essentially every area of the game in order to get a win tonight in Houston.
- Finish with Dignity: Few people expect the Thunder to head back to Oklahoma City for a Game 6. Many have written them off as already on Summer Vacation, and for all intents and purposes, the Rockets are moving on to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Regardless of who wins the game tonight, one thing the Thunder need to do is play their hearts out and not let up. Oklahoma City has yet to win a 4th quarter in the series against Houston, and this alone has cost them in Games 2 and 4. While the Thunder has the talent to pull out a win in Houston, faltering down the stretch simply cannot happen. Oklahoma City needs to buckle down, go hard every play, make some free throws (!!!), and finish the game with dignity, whether it be a win or a loss.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.