NEXT GAME: Thursday, May 1
7:00 PM CDT
April 30th, 2014
Putting Together 48 Consistent Minutes
Every possession and every minute of playoff games are crucial to the final outcome. In this series between the Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, never has that been more evident.
Four straight games have gone into overtime, with the Grizzlies winning three out of the four, meaning Memphis leads the seven game series 3-2 as the Thunder heads to the FedEx Forum for Game 6 on Thursday. While the Thunder is very aware of its win-or-go-home situation, it has full confidence that it can give itself a chance to take a win in Memphis by executing and playing with maximum effort for all four quarters. If it does pull through, it will have an opportunity to play a Game 7 in front of the raucous Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd.
“You have to win four games to win a series,” Brooks said. “They’re one game ahead of us right now. We have a great opportunity to go in there and play with a lot of confidence, a lot of composure and give ourselves a chance to win.”
“It’s just figuring it out and not frustrating ourselves with what we feel like it should look like,” Fisher said. “There’s not a script to playing in the postseason and winning in the playoffs. You just figure it out and take them how they come.”
Over the first five games of the series, the Thunder has shown flashes of playing the style of basketball that has defined Head Coach Scott Brooks’ brand ever since the team arrived in Oklahoma City. Leaders like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, along with veterans Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins have helped the Thunder recover from deficits and make massive runs to ensure that the Thunder had a legitimate shot to win every single game in the series.
The key for the entire team, however, is to ensure that the intensity, focus and execution displayed during those positive stretches is also prevalent for every possession for the entirety of the game.
“In the playoffs there has to be a sense of urgency that just doesn’t wane,” Fisher explained. “It is always on level 100. You can then work your way through everything else. What can’t dip down is that undying sense of urgency that every play and every possession is the most important one and you just find a way to make good things happen.”
In the games the Thunder has won in the series, it has managed to out-rebound the Grizzlies, force them into difficult shots and then share the ball themselves on the offensive end. Much of the external focus in the series has been on the playmaking ability from Durant, Westbrook and Reggie Jackson. According to Fisher, however, Thursday’s contest will come down to the way the Thunder finishes off defensive possessions, creates high percentage shots for itself and makes the 50-50 plays on loose balls and in transition that will determine victory. Sometimes, even the timing of how those plays shake out in the midst of runs can shift momentum and confidence throughout the contest.
“It’s not about the points, the numbers and the minutes played and who gets the shots,” Fisher said. “It’s really about those small things that people mostly don’t notice until you’re not doing them. A free throw box out, a loose ball, a bad decision in transition down the stretch- those are things that add up.”
“There aren’t any things happening out there that we can’t control,” Fisher said. “This is about us. Obviously you have to give your opponent credit, but this about us being better than who we’ve been these first five games. We’re very confident that we can be tomorrow.”
Above all, the Thunder knows that it’s DNA as a team, and organization, has been one that can bounce back in trying times. Throughout the course of the season when the Thunder went 59-23, the team faced plenty of adversity, but continually managed to pull through by looking to one another for support. The trust and confidence in the Thunder’s locker room and amongst the coaching staff is a powerful force, and one the team believes can lead them to a second victory on the road in this war of a series.
“This is not something that hasn’t been done before,” Fisher explained. “We won a game in Memphis a few days ago and we’ve put ourselves in a position to have to do it again.”