From here on out every remaining game is potentially the last for someone as its game 6 all around – for the Oklahoma City Thunder visiting the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors hosting the Los Angeles Clippers and the Indiana Pacers taking on the Atlanta hawks.
The Thunder are just another team in the long list of potential playoff disappointments. They find themselves trailing and facing elimination while coming to play in Memphis against the Grizzlies who have figured out who to stop the Thunder. Durant and Westbrook are getting numbers, averaging a combined 53.4 points per game. But they’re doing it in the wrong way, often causing more harm than good to their team by playing selfish, strong headed and stubborn basketball.
So while Scott Brooks is worried about what becomes of his job if the Thunder actually do get knocked out, he needs to try things that have worked – letting Reggie Jackson handle the ball move while Westbrook plays a bit more off the ball. Maybe it all comes down to the battle in the paint, which the Thunder have been losing. The Grizzlies have pretty much one way to win this game, which they’ve been executing pretty well in the series, and will cotinue to follow that path in game 6 as well.
In Oakland, we have the only higher seed on this night going into the game with the lead in the series. The Clippers and Donald Sterling no longer catch all the headlines, and it remains to be seen if that’s a good thing. The Warriors have won 16 of their past 19 home games against the Clippers, but they’ve already lost in this series at home, and will once again rely on the trio of Green – Barnes and Iguodala we’ve been talking about all playoff-long.
Another factor is Stephen Curry. He had a huge game 4, but took only 10 shots in game 5. The Warriors need to slow down the Clippers in the paint and make it a half court offense game instead of trying to run with them in a wild shootout, but Curry can’t be so standoffish, especially when he doesn’t provide the supplies for others to score. It’s not the time to suddenly become passive after this kind of season.
In Atlanta, one of the more shocking stories in this postseason might come to an end. Few would argue that Atlanta are the weakest team in the group of 16 that have made it into the postseason. Against any other of the 15 they probably would have been out in five or six games, maybe a sweep. But against the rotting body that are the Indiana Pacers, with explanations not being able to define the manner of his collapse, they look like they’re much better than their record.
The Pacers should give up on Roy Hibbert. Players who have shut down physically and mentally don’t suddenly show up for the most important game of the series, especially when they’re not as good as advertised. The Pacers need to turn those short spurts of smart basketball, with the ball moving and not getting glued to the hands of Stephenson or George, to become something that lasts a little longer. Anything else will mean the number one seed kissing the playoffs goodbye.