Thunder Hosts Rockets In Must-Win Game 3 On Friday Night

Thursday, April 20th 2017, 4:45 pm
By: Brett Coppenbarger

After a tragic loss in Game 2, the Thunder looks to save the series on Friday night when it hosts the Rockets at 8:30 p.m.

Here are a few things to know about the matchup:

Thunder Must Win

Even though the Thunder controlled the game for most of three quarters on Wednesday night, OKC completely collapsed in the final frame and now face a must-win game at home on Friday. The Thunder led by as many as 15 points in Game 2, and held a 12-point lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter when Russell Westbrook went to the bench for a short breather.

It was a devastating loss to fall to 0-2 in the series, and it’s tough to bounce back from a game the entire team knows they should’ve won. That being said, the Thunder has no choice but to bounce back. No team in NBA history has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series, and the Thunder players know what’s at stake.

“We’ve got to come out ready to go to war,” Andre Roberson said. “It’s everything, win or go home tomorrow, so we don’t want to go into Game 4 down 3-0. We know we still have a shot to win this.”

With the next two games in OKC, the Thunder has a chance to even things up at 2-2 and make it a three-game series the rest of the way.

“Tomorrow’s definitely important for us, also protecting homecourt,” Roberson said. “We don’t like losing at home, especially in front of our fans in the playoffs. Tomorrow is definitely a big game to win, try to turn the series around.”

Oladipo Needs To Step Up

After shooting 1-for-12 from the field in Game 1, Victor Oladipo followed it up with a 4-for-14 performance in Game 2 as he struggled to get in a rhythm from outside.

“When you have games like this you just go back to the basics, go back to what got you here, continue to keep working and never lose confidence,” Oladipo said about what he needed to do to improve.

Even though this is his first taste of the postseason, it’s somewhat surprising to see Oladipo play like this after performing so well against the Rockets in the regular season. Oladipo averaged nearly 16 points per game in the four games against the Rockets in the regular season while shooting 46-percent from the field.

“They’re flying at me, they’re definitely getting out there,” Oladipo said of the Rockets’ defense. “Obviously, I need to do a better job at making decisions on whether to shoot it or not.”

Westbrook Slowed Down In Fourth

After torching the Rockets throughout the first three quarters for 37 points and 11 assists while putting his team in a position to win, Westbrook was forced to play hero ball in the fourth quarter after OKC’s second unit let the Rockets back in the game.

While playing all 12 minutes of the fourth, Westbrook went 4-for-18 from the field in the final frame with six of those misses coming from behind the arc. With Westbrook playing the role of closer throughout the entire season, it wasn’t surprising to see him shoot a high volume of shots, but he seemed pretty tired down the final stretch of the game but continued to call his own number regardless.  

“I trust my teammates all the time, regardless of what’s going on I’m always trusting my guys,” Westbrook said after the loss. “That’s what we’ve been doing since the start of the season and I’m always going to do that.”

Despite the game-plan not working, Westbrook’s teammates remain confident in their leader.

“We’ve been in that situation all year and Russ has made shots,” Oladipo said. “We’d all be sitting here talking differently if he was making shots in the first place and we would have won. At the end of the day, you just go out there and play. Whatever the game gives you, that’s what you take.”

Ultimately, the Thunder should’ve never been in that situation and will need to be dialed in for 48 minutes in Game 3 if it wants to pick up a much-needed win at home.