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Game 5 Review
The unexpected happened in another edge seating game. The Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder came back from a deficit, took over the lead in the fourth quarter and maintained the lead which gave them a 3-2 lead over the San Antonio Spurs on the road. The Thunder was lead by Russell Westbrook who started the game with six turnovers in the first half but only committed two turnovers in the second half and ended the game with 35 points, 11 rebounds and nine assist. The Spurs played well but looked a little fatigued at the end of the game. There was another crucial no-call which benefitted the Thunder. Less than nine seconds left in the game, the Thunder in-bounded the ball up by one and Westbrook takes the pass and Kawhi Leonard tried to intentionally foul him. He clearly made some contact but no call by the referee and then Westbrook drives to the rim and gets the “And-1”.
Keys To The Game
San Antonio clearly looked as if they were out of gas toward the end of the game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see coach Gregg Popovich change his rotation, go deep in to the bench and play Kevin Martin and even a sighting from point guard Andre Miller to give some of the older players more time to rest. The unfamiliarity with a Martin coming into the game might help ignite a fire within the team. It seems the team has gotten custom to LaMarcus Aldridge and Leonard having big games to lead the Spurs but as of late, Aldridge hadn’t had that impactful game since Game 2. OKC needs to keep playing with emotion. Riding the coattails of Kevin Durant and Westbrook is still the main key to a win. It’s ok if the buckets don’t fall early but they have to continue to put pressure on the Spurs defense whether they are making their shots or not. The bench has been great the past two games (which lead to wins) and when that happens, the two superstars gets their proper rest.
The X-Factor for the Spurs is Patty Mills. Mills have been quiet as of late. He’s scored a total of eight points in the last two games. Mills ability to provide instant scoring off the bench is vital for the Spurs. He along with the second unit can cause Westbrook and Durant to come back into the game earlier than expected which will cause weary legs late in the game. Again, if he can’t get his offense going, expect the crafty Miller to get some playing time and we know he can post up Randy Foye or anybody for that matter.
The X-Factor for the Thunder is Randy Foye. Foye has basically been in just to fill minutes. He has the ability to score but hasn’t really fit in all year. He’s playing as if not to mess up. He can counter the Spurs backups by coming in and hitting some timely shots throughout the game. The “others” have all been playing well the last two wins and if he’s able to join the mix, then OKC will be studying some film on the Golden State Warriors this weekend.
Predictions: OKC has a great chance to move on and contend for a another shot at a Finals appearance. They have the perfect setting for it at home. The only problem is the Spurs are battled tested and have enough fire power to stand in the Thunder’s way. Spurs win in a tight one 99-98