NBA News

Who’s to blame for OKC’s Game 5 loss?

Oklahoma City’s stars weren’t efficient, but Golden State’s were.

Kevin and Russel shot a poor, 38.9 percent from the field against Golden State in Game 5. You may argue that Kevin didn’t have a bad game and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but 40 points off 38.7 percent shooting isn’t great. He’s lucky he was a perfect 13-13 from the free throw line or his numbers wouldn’t have looked nearly as attractive by the way of points. His defense wasn’t bad at all. Pretty good to be honest. Three turnovers are too much for a small forward but that can be fixed if he stops dribbling as much. His high dribble, especially when he drives the lane causes him to get ripped a lot. Eliminate that and you’ll see a huge decline in his turnovers.

Russell reverted back to his old ways that reminded me of Game 1 of the San Antonio series. He shot 11-28 and finished with 31 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. He did have seven of the team’s 17 turnovers as well and that’s part of what hurt OKC the most.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson did what the world expects them to do at this point, shoot pretty well. They’ve shot better, but 42.5 percent is satisfactory when Kevin and Russ shoot 38.9 percent from the field and turn the ball over 10 of the team’s 17 times. I wouldn’t adjust the game plan against Steph and Klay if I were OKC though, other than being more physical with Curry because he’s proven to shy away from that type of game.

Also like Kevin said in his post-game press conference, Steph doesn’t guard the best point guards in the league. He usually needs help. Multiple people guarded Russell while Steph was in the game. Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson being the other defenders.  Him getting that steal on Russell towards the end of the game isn’t a testimony of his defense throughout the series against Russell. That’s only one facet of defense, there are many others.

Kevin’s response and Russell’s reaction when asked about Steph’s defense on Russell.

Throughout this series, whoever dominated the paint won the game.

Coincidentally, OKC’s big men dominated the paint twice. Game 5 belonged to Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut. They were the difference makers and if they play like that in Game 6 it’s going to be hard for OKC to close this series out.

They shot slightly better than Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams and also got the job done rebounding the ball, winning that battle 27-18. In Game 4, it seemed like Serge remembered who he was, attacking the middle and scoring most of his points down there, instead of hoisting up threes from beyond the arc like he’s a 6-foot-7 wing. He has been shooting the three well, but the Thunder have a few guys that can shoot from mid and long range. They need him to hold down the paint in this series especially, against a loaded Golden State team. He’s done a pretty good job this series, he just didn’t relay that into Game 5. He was 5-10 for the game and 3-5 from outside. I just don’t think half of OKC’s starting power forward’s shots should come from outside.

Golden State’s bench played a huge role this game, but it wasn’t mentioned much.

They scored 30 points on 55.5 percent shooting while Oklahoma City’s bench only scored 13 points on 45.5 percent shooting and the player that didn’t perform on OKC’s bench was Dion Waiters who’s averaged 9.5 points during the playoffs, and has been a defensive stickler all series but was scoreless in Game 5 after shooting 0-4 for the game. Enes Kanter has also been huge for this team offensively during the playoffs averaging 10.2 points per game, but only scored one point in game 5, off a free throw. When your two most productive bench players that average 19.7 points per game throughout the playoffs only score one point on 0-5 shooting, you aren’t going to win the game.

Expect this to change in OKC because they will feed off the home crowd and perform at the level they are used to here in the playoffs. 

Oklahoma City will win this series at home, Saturday night in six games to end what could’ve been a dynasty.

I think Golden State will struggle to replace Harrison Barnes, a player that they’ve decided not to re-sign and will presumably be a member of another team next year. He is more effective than advertised. His plus/minus is usually high, and in Game 5 it was a team-high  +12.

(Credit: AP/ Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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