- When: Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 8:00 PM CST
- Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
This series has been all about perspective. The Oklahoma City Thunder run the Grizzlies out of the gym in Game 1 and everyone one wondering if Memphis will win a game in the series. Then the Thunder lose Games 2 and 3 in crushing fashion and the national media (a.k.a. the vultures) start to circle around the Thunder’s apparent rotting carcass. Then they win Game 4 in the same nail biting, heart attack-inducing fashion as the last two games, and the pendulum swings once again.
Here’s the reality though. Nothing much has changed since halftime of Game 1. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are struggling. The bench, up until Reggie Jackson’s Game 4 explosion, has been abhorrent. And Tony Allen is still, somehow, blowing up every pass that comes his way. Since the beginning of the 2nd half in Game 1, the Grizzlies have outscored the Thunder 356-351. But with the Game 4 victory, the Grizzlies are now the ones facing the pressure of having to win two of the next three games on the road. I love back and forth series, but I dislike the pendulemic perspectives that come from them.
3 Keys to the Game
1. The Little Things – Other than Jackson’s Harden-like coming out party, Game 4 was won on the boards and at the free throw line. The Thunder outrebounded the Grizzlies 58-49 in that game, with 20 of those being offensive boards. And the Thunder shot 90% from the charity stripe as opposed to the 56.5% put up by the Grizzlies. They say every possession counts in the playoffs, but more than anything, especially in a close game, it’s the little things that become the deciding factors between winning and losing.
2. Reginald Shon Jackson – First off, you don’t see many people that spell Shon in its correct phonetic fashion. I’ve seen Sean, Shawn, Shaun, but never Shon. Must be an Italian thing (he was born in Italy, if you didn’t know). There are probably a lot more people in the world today that know those two factual tidbits now, that didn’t know them three days ago. Jackson not only saved the game for the Thunder, but he may have saved the season and he may have saved Scott Brooks’ job. If the Thunder would’ve gone down 3-1, it may have been a hole that would’ve proven too difficult to climb out of.
So, which Reggie do we get for Game 5? The Thunder NEEDED Jackson to do what he did on Saturday. It’s impressive when Durant and Westbrook are basically handing you the steering wheel to the game, and you get the job done with ice water in your veins. But let’s not forget the horrible performances in Games 1-3 (5.0 pts/4.3 rebs/3.0 asts on 15.8% shooting (and 0/6 from 3-point territory). The Thunder would love Game 4 Reggie every game. But, if Reggie sticks to his regular season averages of 13/4/4, the Thunder should be okay.
3. Durant, Westbrook, and Milk Cartons – It’s gotten so bad these last couple of games, that I went to the local milk packaging plant and bought a “Missing” advertisement. It reads:
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s Shooting Stroke
If found, please contact Sam Presti at 281-330-8004.
A guy named Mike Jones might answer.
Their struggles have been the main reason why the last three games have been so close. If these two guys shoot anywhere close to 42%, these three games aren’t even close.