Memphis Grizzlies (6-4, 2-3 road) vs. OKC Thunder (6-3, 4-1 home)
Series: Series tied 2-2
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
Forget the teams and actual players, how do we bounce back from Game 4? The game lasted somewhere around four hours in real time, 63 minutes in game time and saw players in each starting five play 55 or more minutes. It was a complete drain, and with only a day off in between, the question is all about energy. Who’s got it?
And this is the pivotal game in the series. With it tied 2-2, the winner here is in complete position to take the series. The game is more important for the Thunder because they’ve won back homecourt advantage and, with a loss, would go back to Memphis facing elimination in a Game 6. The Grizzlies can survive a loss and play to get to a Game 7. The Thunder have to have this one.
Teams that win Game 5 in a 2-2 split take the series 83 percent of the time. Those are good odds — if you win.
And the Thunder possess the X-factor for this game — the arena. In a game where both teams are likely to be battling some fatigue, the fact the game is in Oklahoma City is a huge lift for the Thunder. Just that extra little jolt from their raucous home crowd might be the difference in fading in the second half and driving hard to the finish line.
At the same time, here’s where you dig deep. We’re all probably making a bit too much about energy and heavy legs because these guys are in terrific shape. With a day off and a good boost of adrenaline, it’s probably not THAT big of a deal. Still though, if anyone is to get a boost, it should be the Thunder.
I am just a bit hung on wondering who has the momentum here. Of course it seems like the Thunder should because they were the victors of the triple-overtime game, but the Grizzlies have to feel pretty good about hanging in that game that long. After Conley and Mayo fouled out, they seemed doomed. But they made it through two more overtimes before finally running out of gas.
The Thunder had to have one of the two games in Memphis and got it. Now they have to have this one at home. The Grizzlies are the ones playing with not a lot to lose here. The pressure is on the Thunder. Can they execute just enough again to finally take charge of this series? Can they put together a full 48? Can they bring out their very best when it’s absolutely needed?
I think so. I can feel it coming. It’s going to be a good game, but I think we see more of the Thunder from Game 2 and less of the one from even the last two tonight. It won’t be easy necessarily, but I just get the sense this team is ready.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Please Go Thunder.