The time has come to put up or shut up for the Oklahoma City Thunder, in Houston tonight for a win-or-be-eliminated Game 5. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.
Russell Westbrook is averaging a 35.0-point, 12.0-rebound and 11.3-assist triple-double this series but OKC has been outscored 110-70 when he goes to the bench. After Sunday’s 113-109 Game 4 loss, Westbrook notoriously dismissed questions brought up about the rest of the team’s production.
Russell Westbrook defends his team following Thunder's game 4 loss to the Rockets #News9Thunder pic.twitter.com/SnmPszochs— News 9 Sports (@News9Sport) April 24, 2017
Russell Westbrook defends his team following Thunder's game 4 loss to the Rockets #News9Thunder pic.twitter.com/SnmPszochs
The backup point guard position, whether Semaj Christon or Norris Cole, has been the Thunder’s most-glaring weakness but outside Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson, the entire team is underperforming offensively based on regular season averages.
Victor Oladipo is supposed to be the second “go-to-guy.” He’s averaged 11.0 points on 38.6 percent shooting in his first playoff series. Steven Adams is giving the team 8.3 points and 6.3 boards; he averaged a double-double through 18 playoff games last year.
Meanwhile, the Rockets have five players averaging double figures and two of those – Lou Williams (18.0 ppg) and Nene (13.5) – come off the bench. James Harden is still getting his 33.0 points per contest but he’s had to work for most of that against Roberson’s hounding defense. Harden is shooting 43 percent from the field, 27 percent from three and turning it over 5.8 times per game.
The Thunder’s best scoring option in the post has been rendered useless in the series. Enes Kanter had his best game in OKC’s Game 3 win with 10 points in 10 minutes but he’s been brutal defensively, torched on pick-and-roll switches and outmuscled in the paint by Nene.
Still, Billy Donovan and Oklahoma City don’t have to figure out how to be in games, they have to figure out how to close them. The Rockets have outscored the Thunder by 36 in fourth quarters this series.