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2013 NBA Playoffs: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 5 Preview

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This series is over. At least, that's what everybody tells you.

Don't call it a comeback!
Don't call it a comeback!
William Bennett Berry
2012-2013 NBA PLAYOFFS Round 2!!!!
The Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22)
The Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)
May 15th, 2013
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
8:30 PM Central Daylight Time
Turner Network Television
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), 92.9 FM ESPN
Enemy Blogs: Grizzly Bear Blues, 3 Shades of Blue
Playoffs: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4 (Grizzlies Lead Series 3-1)
Regular Season Series: Nov. 14, Jan. 31, March 20 (Grizzlies won series, 2-1)
Injury Report: Russell Westbrook (Out)
Probable Starters
Reggie Jackson PG Mike Conley
Thabo Sefolosha SG Tony Allen
Kevin Durant SF Tayshaun Prince
Serge Ibaka PF Zach Randolph
Kendrick Perkins C
Marc Gasol

This series is over.

At least, that's what everybody tells you. The 3-1 series deficit is too much to overcome, and there's no way the Thunder can win three straight games. The Grizzlies were better than the Thunder even with Westbrook, andthey've proved their late game dominance even on bad nights. It's time to pack up and get ready for a new season.

Even though I've always prided myself on being a realist when it comes to the Thunder, I still feel like they have a chance of winning this series. It's not likely, but it is a realistic one. Every single game of this series has come down to the final minutes, and the Thunder simply haven't been able to deliver. If the ball had bounced a different way, the Thunder could have swept this series.

Thus, you can't pin an overarching reason on the Thunder's deficit, and any attempt to do so would make me sound bland or foolish. There's lots of little reasons. Last night, Kevin Durant experienced an offensive collapse, missing a ton of shots taken right in Tayshaun Prince's grill. Kevin Martin was inexplicably subbed out in the fourth, taking away one of the Thunder's best performers. Serge Ibaka ceased to be an offensive option. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies managed to win with really average offensive production.

If you look at every other game in the course of this series, the story is similar. Usually one or two players will have an off night, and Scott Brooks will make some questionable decisions. Meanwhile, the Thunder defense will make critical errors when it matters most, and Kevin Durant won't be able to hit clutch shots.

I'd love to propose a solution at this juncture, but I really can't. If the strategy remains sound and the players' performances remain sound, the Thunder could blow the Grizzlies out three straight times and take the series. They have the tools to shut down Randolph, Gasol, and Conley. All three of them have had really mediocre series. Meanwhile, every Thunder player has shown that they're capable of having a great statline, but can only show up on certain nights.

The only general advice I'll give is that the Thunder need to move the ball, push the pace, and play to their strengths. When the Grizzlies are able to play the half-court game, they generally have the advantage. This doesn't mean the Thunder should always go small and never match up with them, but it does mean they shouldn't isolate themsleves and stagnate.

I don't know what the future holds right now, but there is hope. As I sit here at my desk typing this thing out, I'm hearing the loud rumblings of some distant Thunder. Do weather patterns have anything to do with a cheekily named basketball team? Probably not. But if the Thunder do, in fact, lose tonight, the cloudy skies will make an appropriate setting for the mood of fans everywhere. For if the Thunder lose, fans will have to face what they've never faced before.... Disappointment.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder Over 9,000, Memphis Grizzlies 5

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.