Rockets (1-3, 0-2 road) vs. Thunder (3-1, 2-0 home)
View from the enemy: Red 94
A chance to close at home, and maybe that’s for the best. The Thunder have some challenges ahead in learning to play without Russell Westbrook, and maybe one more game of trying to sort through it all live will do them some good.
That is, as long as they win.
Then it’s fine. A loss and this series becomes very interesting, with a Game 6 in Houston that could lead to a do-or-die Game 7 in OKC. The Thunder still have complete control, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it. With them being such a different team sans Westbrook, there’s not the same confidence that OKC will handle this.
Three Big Things
1. Turnovers. With KD handling the ball so much, turnovers are going to happen. He’s a high turnover player and the Rockets are swarming him. But the Thunder as a team can have the dumb give-away possessions. Take care of your post entry passes. Look before you throw an outlet. Make the simple plays. Don’t make it harder than it already is.
2. Diversify your portfolio. The Thunder are still finding their way without Westbrook running their offense. Reggie Jackson was much more aggressive in looking for his own, taking 18 shots in Game 5. But there’s a problem brewing with Kevin Martin. In Game 3, Martin scored 12 points in the first half but zero in the second. In Game 4, 14 in the first half but only two in the second. The Thunder’s offense is clearly structured entirely around Kevin Durant right now, but there has to be some diversity. Durant was beyond brilliant in Game 4 with 38 points on 12-16 shooting, but that’s too much to ask. He needs help, and you can start with Martin. And then Serge Ibaka. The Thunder offense still has weapons without Westbrook. It’s about using them.
3. Advance. That’s it. Get it done. Move on. By any means necessary.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go Finish Them.