Man, am I happy this is not the last recap of the season.
The Thunder ended the continuous streak of overtimes in a huge win over the Grizzlies, 104-84. This win will send the Thunder back to loud city for an electrifying Game 7, which will decide the fate of both teams. Though this game did not consist of the overtime drama as the previous four, this game was just as exhilarating, mostly because for the first time, the Thunder played a complete game.
There is nothing like a Game 7, especially at home court. We saw Kevin Durant overcome Tony Allen, Westbrook shoot a decent percentage, and Steven Adams playing incredible defense! It was a fantastic effort and a crucial win on OKC's resume.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The Slim Reaper is back! Kevin Durant started the game on fire, scoring 12 points in the first quarter alone. Overall, Durant's FG percentage increased to 47.8 percent; this was a substantial difference from his previous games. Despite his poor three point shooting (0-6), Durant's overall shooting was un-guardable. Durant, even challenged by Tony Allen, still found ways to score and matched Allen's defensive intensity with aggressiveness, getting to the free throw line 15 times. It was great seeing the old Kevin Durant join the Thunder again, and it obviously made a difference in the game's outcome. He definitely took the name "Mr. Unreliable" to hearts.
Russell Westbrook didn't shoot 1 million shots! My reaction to every Westbrook made shot was, "how many shots did he miss to make this one?" But in all seriousness, Westbrook's offense was phenomenal as well.
Other happenings in the game surprised me as well. Like when Jeremy Lamb stepped on the floor for three minutes, it was a touching moment. Or when Steven Adams was an absolute Kiwi Beast in the paint with 5 blocks in 20 minutes.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
KD's shot selection was smarter, his aggressiveness was intimidating, and his overall shooting was unstoppable. It is safe to say that when Kevin Durant is hot, the rest of the team is hot. And that was the case tonight.
Aside from KD, the Thunder bench finally contributed. Reggie Jackson was electric from behind the arc, Steven Adams was a power house on defense, and Jeremy Lamb stepped on the court for a minute or so. In the Kiwi's first big opportunity to contribute in the postseason, his performance was nothing short of a defensive masterpiece. And I know I may tend to exaggerate in terms of Funaki, but he looked like Dikembe Mutombo out there.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
49.3 team field goal percentage. No, that was not a typo. Every single Thunder player shot efficiently for the most part. Reggie Jackson went 6-9 from the field with 4 three-pointers. It also helped that the team free throw percentage was 92 percent! What do you get when you put together great shooting with solid defense? I think you can guess.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
It means that our Finals dreams are still intact. Thanks to Mr. Unreliable, the Thunder are headed back to OKC for another chance at beating the Grizzlies. This also means that the Thunder can't screw this opportunity up again with poor shot selection and lazy defense. They must practice hard tomorrow and be ready to play Saturday.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant (36 points 11-23 shooting, 10 rebounds)
Thunder Down Under: Reggie Jackson (16 points, 4-5 3PT)
Thunder Plunderer: Tony Allen (13 points, great D)
Next game: @Thunder Saturday, Time: TBD