Following a crucial win in Game 3, the Thunder looks to even up the series on Sunday afternoon (2:30 p.m.) when it hosts the Rockets in Game 4.
Related: Thunder Holds Off Rockets In Game 3 For Much-Needed Win
Here are a few questions heading into the game:
Will The Role Players Continue To Step Up?
Russell Westbrook put together one of his ridiculous stat-lines in Friday night’s win, but the key to OKC’s success can be credited to the play of the Thunder’s role players.
After providing little help for Westbrook in Game’s 1 and 2, four other OKC players scored in double figures in Game 3, while Taj Gibson stepped up in the biggest way. Seeing Billy Donovan wanted to take advantage of the matchup with Ryan Anderson, Gibson was continually fed the ball in the post and totaled 20 points in the game on 10-of-13 shooting.
Russ all smiles. Says he distributed better in 4th. Says he doesn't have surrounding cast. 'We play as 1' & always have. @news9 @okcthunder pic.twitter.com/S706BJ3I2t— Dean Blevins (@DeanBlevins) April 22, 2017
Russ all smiles. Says he distributed better in 4th. Says he doesn't have surrounding cast. 'We play as 1' & always have. @news9 @okcthunder pic.twitter.com/S706BJ3I2t
Along with Gibson, Victor Oladipo and Andre Roberson each scored 12 points apiece, while guys like Doug McDermott and Alex Abrines each knocked down a pair of much-needed 3-pointers and appeared to be more confident.
The Thunder will need everyone on the floor to play at a high level if they want to keep up with a historically great Rockets’ offense.
Will The Thunder Stop Fouling?
Despite shooting 55.4-percent from the field, the Thunder only won Game 3 by two points. While a win is a win no matter what, the Rockets were able to stay in the game—and nearly win it—by shooting 33 free throws compared to only 23 by the Thunder.
James Harden totaled a whopping 44 points on only 11 made field goals because he made all of his 18 free throw attempts. Whether he was shooting a 3-pointer or driving to the basket, the Thunder was continually whistled for making illegal contact.
Billy Donovan said postgame that his guys need to stop all the fouling, so it’ll be interesting to see if that slows down on Sunday afternoon.
Which Patrick Beverley Will Show Up?
While he isn’t considered to be an all-star caliber player, the Rockets’ success or failure as of late has had a lot to do with the play of Patrick Beverley. The feisty point guard averaged 18 points in Games 1 and 2, but only tallied one point on Friday night in Game 3.
Not only did Beverley struggle from the field, but he was also involved in some type of altercation with a Thunder fan after the game. The NBA is investigating the incident, but Beverley isn’t expected to be suspended for his actions.