By Suave Francisco
Neither team played great, but obviously Golden State played a tad bit better tonight. Oklahoma City dropped Game 5 to the Warriors 120-111 to even the series to 3-2, in favor of the Thunder with Game 6 headed back to the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City lost this game because of a few reasons.
First and foremost, lopsided free throw attempts. I've never been one to blame referee's for the overall outcome of a game, but the free throw discrepancy was evident. In what was a physical game, Golden State shot 34 free throws and OKC shot 24. The Thunder weren't any more physical than Golden State. Both teams were fouling a lot, therefore, the foul shot attempts should've been a little closer than they were and the game should've been closer as well. However, that's not the only reason they lost. The Thunder struggled in a few other aspects of the game.
Golden State's Andrew Bogut has been ineffective this entire series, and that's one of the main reasons the Thunder, for the most part, had their way with Golden State almost throughout. Tonight he finished with 15 points, and 14 rebounds on 7-9 shooting. He also played 30 minutes. They cracked the code for at least one game. Rebounding also played a huge role in the Warriors success. They didn't out-rebound the Thunder but they tied them 45-45 in that category, which they can consider a successful night. If OKC doesn't win the rebounding battle by a convincing number, they are going to have problems, because if they can't dominate Golden State's frontcourt, what can they beat them in? Shooting? No. Post play has been the key to them winning these games and it still is.
Not to give criticism that seems cliche when OKC loses, but Russell Westbrook shot a little bit too much today, 28 times. Honestly, it's really not the number of shots he took per say, it's the shot selection. At times, he looked like the Russell Westbrook of old, not the Russell Westbrook the world has been ranting and raving about all series. I saw him reverting back to Game 1 of the San Antonio series again at times. Not quite as bad as that game, but it wasn't good. His eight assists were great! but the seven turnovers almost trump that stat. The Golden State Warriors found a way to get to Russell and his teammates defensively so that not only was he denied many quality shots, he couldn't get his teammates the ball in scoring position.
Immediately after that question was asked, Russell chuckled, and continued to smirk as Kevin gave his answer.
Dion Waiters has been the X-factor for this Thunder team all postseason seemingly, but he didn't show up today at all, laying an egg in the scoring column on four shot attempts. His plus/minus was also a team low -18 for the game. He played 26 minutes, and that hurt the team. Coach Billy Donovan put Anthony Morrow in for 7:30 and he scored 10 points on 4-4 shooting. You'd think he should have stayed in the game, especially late but he didn't and it's because he got burned on defense on multiple occasions. You can't have any weak links on the perimeter if you are playing Golden State.
It's not the time to panic if you are Oklahoma City, though. The deal is, they have two games to win one and one of those games are at home, Saturday night where Golden State looked rather mediocre all series.