Back To The Brink
By Randy Renner
Well at least the Thunder have been here before, out on a ledge staring into the abyss of a season ended too soon.
Remember that was back in the first round against Memphis, when the Grizzlies knocked off the Thunder in OKC to take a 3-2 series lead. Not only were the Thunder out on a ledge they were out on one in Memphis, they had to win on the road to get a winner take all Game 7 back at home.
Now the Thunder again find themselves down 3-2 after a stunningly bad, 117-89, performance in Game 5 down in old San Antone.
This time Game 6 is at home inside the loud but friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Again the Thunder have to win to force a Game 7 and extend their season. A loss Saturday night and the season is over.
“It’s been an up-and-down series, but we’ve got to find a way to come with it in Game 6,” said Thunder superstar Kevin Durant. “If we want to get to where we want to get to, we’ve got to win in San Antonio. But we’ve got to get the next game.”
Right. The next game, not Game 7. Durant had 25 points last night and Russell Westbrook added 21. No one else did a whole lot, not even series savior Serge Ibaka who was taken out of his painted area defensive comfort zone by a Spurs lineup change.
Gregg Popovich started forward Matt Bonner at the center spot and left Tiago Splitter on the bench. Even though Bonner didn't score, the threat of his shooting ability from beyond the arc forced Ibaka out of the lane at times.
That opened up things for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and when Boris Diaw started down low in the second half and knocked down a couple of threes the Thunder were scrambling to figure something out on defense.
They never did.
“This is the way we’ve been playing all season long and how we need to play to win,” said Spurs forward Tim Duncan. “We shared the ball real well. We moved the ball real well. We moved our bodies. We took something away from them, and we made them react. And on top of that, you have a night where guys shoot the ball as well as they did and it turns into the score that it did.”
"We have to do a better job than what we did tonight. All of our energy now is going to be figuring out ways to get better and come back better in Game 6," promised Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
Thunder coaches will spend the morning going over game film and working on counters to Popovich's changes and what he might do additionally in Game 6. Then the players will hit the court briefly early this afternoon to go over the new plan.
We'll be there and will have updates after practice.