Oklahoma City is now facing elimination after the Grizzles took a single game lead (3-2) over the Thunder.
The 2-seed Thunder have struggled in this series against the 7-seed Grizzles. Although, the Grizzles are a lot better than a 7-seed and probably would have been ranked higher, had Marc Gasol played most of the season.
What happened to that Oklahoma City team we saw in Game 1 of this matchup? I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that question, not even the Thunder. There are a few problems Oklahoma City must fix in order to avoid elimination.
It’s not going to be easy for the Thunder to dig themselves out of the 3-2 hole, there are just too many things going wrong for the Thunder right now. Who would have thought a team that won 59 games and has the probable MVP on its roster, would be facing elimination in the first round of the playoffs?
You have to hand it to the Grizzlies. They are a good, solid basketball team. Like mentioned earlier, they would have probably had a better season had Gasol been healthy all season.
Memphis’ defense this series is outstanding. Players such as Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince have done a great job holding Kevin Durant, something every team has struggled to do this season. They have gotten in his head. Durant is only 50-for-125 this series and only 12-of-42 from long range. He has also committed 20 turnovers.
Durant is tired. His fatigue has got ahold of him and it’s dragging him down, along with the whole Thunder team. It’s hard to put blame on Durant for this; he’s done a lot this season. He has played over 3,100 minutes this season, which over 100 minutes more than the next closest guy. He is also averaging 47.8 minutes per game this series. He’s has got to be tired. And not to mention Tony Allen is making him work his tail off every offensive possession.
Another problem for the Thunder is Russell Westbrook. Don’t get me wrong, the Thunder need Westbrook if they want to win this series or any other series but he also needs to learn to play his role.
Westbrook is a point-guard, who has Kevin Durant (probable MVP) on his team, which means he shouldn’t be a score-first point guard, he should be a pass-first point guard but for some reason he is struggling with this role. Westbrook is a great athlete and his athletic ability is needed by the Thunder but he forces the issue too often. Poor shot selection and just bad decisions all around by Westbrook are hurting this team and it’s a reason they are down 3-2 in this series.
Don’t count Oklahoma City out quite yet, but things are looking great for them either. They are going to need to play just like that first half of Game 1 from here on out or else their NBA Finals hopes are gone.
It would be disappointing to see this team loss in the first round of the playoffs to the Grizzlies for the second season in a row.