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2014 NBA Playoffs: Inspired performances lead to Thunder game 6 win

The Thunder got key performances from a number of their role players in order to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We all witnessed the fabulous comeback the Thunder did in game 5 against the Clippers to take the lead in the series by 3-2. However, with the Thunder having to return to Los Angeles, and then losing Serge Ibaka in the 3rd quarter to a calf injury, how would they compete in the end? In my previous article, I wrote that I believed Russell Westbrook was a super-hero and that how he played in game 5 will motivate and inspire the rest of the team in game 6. This theory proved correct, as Kevin Durant had his best game of the series and the Thunder defense played inspired.

Starting off with Kevin Durant, we saw how he overcame struggles in game 5 to finish at his usual offensive tempo in game 6. He had 39 points, 5 assists, 16 rebounds, while shooting 47% from the field, and 62% from behind the arc. Reggie Jackson stepped up as he had 14 points, 3 assists, shooting 50% from the field and having a pair of a 3-point shots. Westbrook's shooting performance declined, but he still had 19 points, 12 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.

We thought that Serge Ibaka's calf injury would eventually have a negative outcome on the team, especially on defense. What happened instead was that role players Nick Collison and Steven Adams defended the paint far better than anybody, especially the Clippers, anticipated. Steven Adams had 10 points, 11 rebounds, 1 Block, and 1 steal while shooting 71% from the field, where in return Collison had 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and one huge 3-pointer that tied the ball game.

The biggest revelation of this series is that coach Scott Brooks has trusted Steven Adams to get job done. If Adams can continue to improve, OKC will no longer have to trade offense for defense at the center spot. Nick Collison is a known quantity, but it was great to see him finally contribute for his team. Reggie Jackson played well on both ends of the court and finally outplayed his 6th man counterpart, Jamal Crawford, who only scored 4 points.

Comparing Thunder Key Players in game 5 and 6 statistically:

Game 5:

- Kevin Durant: 27 points, 5 assists, 10 rebounds, while shooting 27% from the field, and 50% from behind the arc.

- Westbrook: 38 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, while shooting 47% from the field, and 33% from the 3-point line

- Reggie Jackson: 8 points, 1 assist, 7 rebounds, while shooting 40% from the field, and 50% from behind the arc.

- Steven Adams: 9 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds

- Nick Collison: 2 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds

Game 6:

- Kevin Durant: 39 points, 5 assists, 16 rebounds, shooting 47% from the field, and 62% from behind the arc

- Westbrook: 19 points, 12 assists, 3 rebounds, while shooting 26% from the field, and 0% from the 3-point line

- Reggie Jackson: 14 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, shooting 50% from the field, and 33% from behind the arc.

- Steven Adams: 10 points and 11 rebounds, 1 Block, and 1 steal

- Nick Collison: 4 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and tie-breaker 3-point shot

Do you think the Thunder can play the same way against the Spurs to advance to the Playoffs finals?