Thunder Rested and Ready for Game Five

Just 44 hours after the Thunder earned a hard-fought, thrilling, triple-overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4, a contest that started late one evening and ended early the next morning, they will tip it off in the critical fifth game of this rockem, sockem series.

Not much time to rest up, but plenty of time to be ready.

“I think guys got their rest last night and yesterday, but hey it’s the playoffs,” noted Thunder center Kendrick Perkins. “It’s all about mental toughness now this is what you live for, a three overtime game, coming back for a Game 5 at home. And you know we’ve got a young team, it’s not like we’re old, so guys weren’t really that tired.”

“We got our rest and we’re young,” agreed Thunder shooting guard James Harden. “So we have no excuse, we just have to be ready tonight.”

You would think fatigue could certainly play a factor, “Oh yes, for sure,” Grizzlies center Marc Gasol admitted to reporters in Memphis. He could be the most tired, playing 57:08 of the game’s 63 minutes. Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant was just a few seconds behind at 56:49. Memphis forward Zach Randolph played 55:56 and Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook logged 51:29.

Even with all those minutes adding up, Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks agrees with his players, fatigue won’t be a factor.

“We had enough time to rest, we’re ready,” he assured. “Our crowd will be ready. Our guys are focused, we had a great shoot-around this morning, we’re excited. I think both teams will be ready to play tonight.”

Since the Thunder were able to hold on and earn that emotional win early Tuesday morning, regaining home court advantage, do they now have the momentum, especially coming back home?

“I don’t really like to get too comfortable saying you got a home court advantage because I think the home team sometimes gets relaxed,” pointed out Perkins. “So I think it’s an even slate. I think we have to approach each game like it’s a Game 7 until we close out the series.”

Thunder forward Nick Collison agreed.

“I’ve kind of always felt momentum isn’t a real thing. It’s not a tangible thing,” he said. “I think the way this series has gone you just have to come out and play each game.”

Which makes this next game tonight the most important in the series. The Thunder can gain a measure of control if they win but could go out of control with a loss, facing a trip back to Memphis.

“It’s very important,” said Brooks. “We only have three games left every game is critical. We have to go out and play with great energy and toughness because Memphis isn’t going to lay down and give us the game. ”

After four games and four overtime periods these two teams are about as close as you can get. The series is tied 2-2 and Memphis leads Oklahoma City in total points scored by a single basket, 440-438.

“Going into the series we knew that would be the case, though I didn’t think the scoring would be that even but we knew they were a good team, we have a lot of respect for them.”

The keys to this game will be much the same as with the others for Oklahoma City, control the Grizzlies inside game and limit turnovers.

“It’s a great opportunity tonight for either team, Game 5 is always that way when a series is tied. We know we have a great building our fans are going to be fired up and it’s going to be exciting down there, but it doesn’t guarantee a win we still have to come out and execute and play well and make plays down the stretch for each other. It’s a great opportunity. We’re excited.”