|2013-2014 NBA Pre-Season|
|May 1st, 2014|
|FedEx Forum (Grind House) Memphis, Tennessee|
|7:00 PM Central Time|
|WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM), 92.5 FM ESPN|
|Enemy Blogs: Grizzly Bear Blues|
|Previous Meetings: Game 1 (W, 100-86), Game 2 (L, 105-111), Game 3 (L, 95-98) Game 4 (W, 92-89) Game 5 (L, 99-100)|
|Injury Report: Nick Calathes (Suspended)|
|Russell Westbrook||P||Mike Conley Jr.|
|Thabo Sefolosha||SG||Courtney Lee|
|Kevin Durant||SF||TyShaun Prince|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Zach Randolph|
|Kendrick Perkins||C||Marc Gasol|
There is an old adage that a playoffs series in the NBA doesn't really start until a team faces elimination. I never cared for that mindset or really understood it. For me, a playoff series really gets going with Game 3 but regardless of what playoff series you subscribe to one thing is for certain. The Thunder won 59 games this season, has the eventual MVP winner on their team and is on the door step of being eliminated from the 2014 playoffs. To ensure that they do not see this fate they must win a game on the road in Memphis at an arena that has been nicknamed the "Grind House" and has been a house of horrors for the Thunder in the post season.
The position the Thunder are found in is not that shocking to me. Well, it is a little shocking because I thought by the time the Thunder got to game six of this series they would be up 3-2 and not on the reserve end. I’ve before contended the Thunder will win the Western Conference and this would be the toughest series they would play on their way to the finals. That could still happen but things look bleak for the team from Loud City.
The main issues that plagued the Thunder in game five were the continued struggles of Kevin Durant on offense and the inability to stop the Grizzlies offense. Durant isn't alone in his offense difficulties. Both he and Russell Westbrook found themselves in the middle of another poor shooting night in game five with Durant going 10-21 and Westbrook one -upping him by going 10-31. The point totals were there for both players (26 and 30 respectively) but the more the misses piled up the more of a toll it took on the team. It didn't help things that the Thunder apparently decided that they were too cool to box out in game five. If the Thunder are going to win game five they need to find a way to get their two superstars on track and get multiple bench players involved. In game four they rode on the back of Reggie Jackson and his playoff career high of 32 points and it was no shock that he came crashing back to Earth in game six scoring 6 points on 2-7 shooting in 38 minutes. Good news for the Thunder is Caron Butler was able to put in 15 points off the bench and helped keep the Thunder from getting run off the court in game five. The bad news for the Thunder is they have still yet to unravel the riddle that is the Grizzlies offense.
Game five showed some of the worst and most uninspired defense I have seen the Thunder play this season. For a team that prides itself on its pretty good defense they looked completely lost. From losing Mike Miller on rotations and allowing him to nail an open three to completely missing the seven foot giant Spanish man named Marc Gasol in the middle of the lane. When Gasol wasn't making unguarded/wide open layups he was hitting near impossible turnaround jumpers on Serge Ibaka. I don't know what the name is for something higher than Threat Level Midnight but the Thunder are officially in that zone.
Scott Brooks needs to do something to get Durant out of this horrible funk and/or figure out some way to stop Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. from continuing to torch this once highly thought of defense. There is no way Kevin Durant continues this downward spiral of craptastic shooting performance...right? It has to end at some point and although Memphis has not been kind to the Thunder I have a said all along this series is going seven games.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 98, Memphis Grizzlies 94 in yet another overtime game.