Oklahoma City staved off elimination in Game 5. However, it will much more challenging to do so on the road at Utah on Friday night on ESPN at 8:35 Mountain Time before Jazz fans.
With Game 5 tied after three quarters in Oklahoma City, the Thunder players either had to respond or go meekly and answer questions again why their “Big 3” version did not pan out. For a couple days at least, OKC just has to focus on basketball thanks to their clutch effort.
The Thunder won the fourth quarter 29-21, thanks to getting strong performances from Russell Westbrook (45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists) and Paul George (34 points and 8 boards). But this was never easy, as they once trailed by 25 and had to show courage, which was not this team’s strong suit this season.
The NBA odds have Utah as a six-point favorite, with a total of 206. Does the series end Friday or are we talking a Game 7 on Sunday in the Sooner State?
Whenever a team has a remarkable comeback to win a game, it is always best to understand both sides of the story. What Oklahoma City was incredible, but the Jazz also blew it. During the regular season a loss like this stings, but giving away a near-certain victory in a seven-game series, that turn a series triumph into a stunning defeat.
Utah players comments after the game explain their frustration. “We stopped playing defense,” guard Donovan Mitchell said. “We stopped getting back. Our offense got stagnant. They made adjustments and we didn’t make the right adjustments back. We will watch the film and figure out what went wrong…”
“We need to do a better job,” Ricky Rubio said. “Of course, you have to give them credit. They made a lot of shots. They took their pride and forced a Game 6.”